Science / Medicine : Suit Over Endangered Plants

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Environmentalists sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week in an effort to have 159 rare California plants added to the U.S. list of threatened and endangered species. The suit contends that the wildlife service has determined the plants are at risk of extinction but has failed to list them.

“The government has been dragging its feet on these proposed listings for 14 years,” said attorney Michael Sherwood of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, who filed the suit for the California Native Plant Society. Sherwood said housing projects, commercial development and agricultural expansion will kill off the rare plants by the time federal officials act if they proceed at the present rate.

Mark Skinner of the California Native Plant Society said federal officials acknowledge that the plants meet their criteria for protected status, but they lack the resources to proceed quickly enough to save them. “We want to convince Congress (by the suit) that they need vastly increased resources for them to do their job,” he said.