The bearpoppy is a lovely if somewhat unassuming little flower and if you don’t care about it perhaps you care about bees?
“The Las Vegas bearpoppy is an integral part of the Mojave Desert floral ecosystem with a characteristic yellow bloom that provides pollen for native bees,” the Center for Biological Diversity says in a petition to Interior Department officials seeking protection for the flower under the Endangered Species Act.
“The bearpoppy is imperiled by habitat loss and fragmentation due to urbanization, grazing, non-native honey bees that compete with specialist pollinators and degrade the plant community, motorized recreational activities, gypsum mining, climate change, lack of genetic diversity, and lack of protective regulatory mechanisms,” reads the group’s petition.
“The bearpoppy’s successful reproduction is closely intertwined with the survival of rare specialist pollinators, including the imperiled Mojave poppy bee,” the Center said in a statement announcing the petition. The Center last year filed a petition protection for the bee.
Clark County included the bearpoppy in a conservation plan in 2001, with the goal of protecting the species from becoming an endangered species.
Bee populations are in decline worldwide, a phenomenon that scientists warn could be disastrous because reduced pollination threatens viability not only of crops but native plants and ecosystems.
“Clark County and the BLM have had 20 years to save this species from free-falling into extinction, and they’ve failed,” said Patrick Donnelly, the Center’s Nevada state director. “Now only the Endangered Species Act can save this beautiful wildflower from destruction by mining and urban sprawl. It must be protected before it is too late.”
The Center says instead of protecting the species, Clark County is further endangering it by supporting a federal public lands bill “that would allow destruction of 296,000 additional acres of Mojave desert habitat.”
This is not the first time the group has expressed disappointment in connection with the county’s requests for a federal lands bill. This spring the Center charged that the county’s effort to designate thousands of acres of public land for off-road vehicle use threatens the desert tortoise.
The county disagreed. “The county staff has done countless hours of research on this issue to ensure that all stakeholders’ interests were taken into account and that critical tortoise and other species habitat is protected,” Commissioner Justin Jones said in April after the commission voted to include the off-road designation in its request to Congress.