Public Hearings in Pasco for Bladderpod Dispute - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Public Hearings in Pasco for Bladderpod Dispute

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PASCO, Wash. - NBC Right Now continues to follow the dispute between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Franklin County.

Earlier this year, Fish and Wildlife deemed a portion of private land in Franklin County as a critical habitat area to protect a plant that could be endangered. But after an outcry by some residents, They are re-thinking that decision.

The second hearing on Thursday allows people to give opinions on the issue, and even though anyone from the public can attend, earlier today NBC Right Now's cameras were turned away as over one hundred people trickled in.

They are discussing a plant called White Bluffs Bladderpod which U.S. Fish and Wildlife believes only grows in a small section of Franklin County, part of that on private farmland.

When they declared the land a critical habitat area to preserve the plant, those property owners, and Franklin county leaders, were upset.

Now U.S. Fish and Wildlife has put their decision on hold until they hear more from the public. The heart of the issue is whether or not the endangered plant will end up threatening agriculture.

"We don't believe its going to have much effect at all, because critical habitat only tells federal agencies when they need to talk to us about actions they're undertaking. It does not prevent a land owner from using their land," said Ken Berg with Fish and Wildlife.

"They can shut off all agricultural practices regardless of the crop, because we feel the real intent here isn't the protection of the plant, it's the means to a larger end, and that is to shut down agriculture in the area," said Kent McMullen with the Natural Resources Advisory Committee.

McMullen says they have submitted a DNA test to see if this plant is really endangered, or the same as another plant in several other states.

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