Suit filed to protect endangered Lake Tahoe plant
Monday, September 08, 2003
Endangered Earth, No. 342, Center for Biological Diversity
The Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, and Committee for the High Desert filed suit on 8-15-03 against the Bush administration for delaying Endangered Species Act protection for the imperiled Tahoe yellow cress, an imperiled mustard plant threatened by the continued development of the Lake Tahoe shoreline.
The Tahoe yellow cress (Rorippa subumbellata) grows within the seven-foot “tidal” zone that is pounded by boat wake, dock proliferation, housing sprawl, and poorly planned recreation. A proposal to raise water levels in the lake and rescind a moratorium on pier construction will likely drive the plant extinct if action is not take soon.
The Smithsonian Institution petitioned to list the yellow cress as an endangered species in 1975. In 1976 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a listing proposal, but did not finish it. In 1980 the plant was declared “critically endangered” by the state of Nevada and in 1982 it was declared “endangered” by the state of California. In 2000, the League to Save Lake Tahoe and the Center for Biological Diversity repetitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service protect it.
In the 28 years since the Smithsonian Institution initiated the listing process for the yellow cress the species has continued to spiral toward extinction. 38 of 48 historically known populations have now disappeared. Nonetheless, the Bush administration has decided to continue delaying protection. It refuses to process the Center’s listing petition.