The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service affirmed their decision Thursday to designate the White Bluffs bladderpod and the Umtanum desert buckwheat as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
KENNEWICK, WA - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service affirmed their decision Thursday to designate the White Bluffs bladderpod and the Umtanum desert buckwheat as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Thursday's ruling from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service means the desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod will be added to the endangered species list, but they will only be protected on federal lands.
Fish and Wildlife reassessed the critical habitat designation for the bladderpod and it now includes over 2,000 acres on federal land.
Fish and Wildlife completed several studies including aerial photography and DNA tests before reaching their decision.
They concluded the endangered species distinction will only apply to federal land in Franklin and Benton counties located on the Hanford reservation.
Private land owners were concerned that protecting the plants would affect the use of their land.
Back in July, farmers in Franklin County paid for $25,000 in private testing, where scientists at the University of Idaho compared DNA from the White Bluffs bladderpod with other bladderpods.
The farmers said the results showed the White Bluffs plant had a 100% resemblance to the other plants, leading them to believe it wasn't threatened.
The department says public comments and visits to private properties impacted their final decision.
"On the landowners property, gave us that opportunity to see first hand what the habitat looks like today and those landowners helped themselves and their neighbors frankly, by letting us get a look at that and we realize that that is not the habitat that is essential to the recovery of the species," said Bridget Moran, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Moran says studies proved the private lands were not essential to recovering the species and the private land habitat didn't present signs that it could become critical land for the survival of the plant.