The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has declined to list two Nevada plants under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). On Wednesday, the Service published its 12-month findings on a petition to list the Churchill Narrows buckwheat (Eriogonum diatomaceum) and the Las Vegas buckwheat (Eriogonum corymbosum var. nilesii).

Section 4(a)(1) of the ESA lists five factors that the Service must examine when deciding whether to list a species as threatened or endangered: (1) the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (2) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (3) disease or predation; (4) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and (5) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. Examining these factors for the Churchill Narrows buckwheat, the Service looked at the effects of mineral exploration and development, livestock grazing, herbivory, off-highway vehicle activity and road development, invasive plant species, disease, and climate change on the species. The Service found that the “best scientific and commercial information does not indicate that these stressors are causing a decline in the species or its habitat, either now or into the future.” Regarding the Las Vegas buckwheat, the Service found that commercial and other development, off-highway vehicle use and road development, mineral exploration and development, invasive plant species, modified wildfire regime, and climate change “may have impacts on individuals in some locations, but they are not impacting the plants currently or into the future such that listing would be warranted.”

The Churchill Narrows buckwheat and Las Vegas buckwheat have been candidates for ESA listing since 2004 and 2007, respectively. The decision not to lists the species was made as part of a 2011 settlement agreement between the Service and the Center for Biological Diversity, in which the Service agreed to speed up its listing decision process for over 700 species found throughout the United States.