Federal agency will review decision on Lee Canyon expansion following launch of lawsuit over endangered butterfly

Local News

Photo credit: Sky Island / Flickr

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A federal agency will review its earlier to decision that said an expansion of the Lee Canyon ski resort wouldn’t jeopardize Mount Charleston’s blue butterflies.

This comes after the Center for Biological Diversity, an conservation group, launched a lawsuit over the decision because it felt there were “significant shortcomings” in the agency’s analysis.

The butterfly has been listed as endangered since 2013 which was the same year it experienced a catastrophic loss due to the Carpenter 1 wildfire. Two years later, more than 5,000 acres was set aside as critical habitat.

Owners of Lee Canyon ski resort want to expand to include summer operations that would include a dozen miles of hiking and mountain bike trails where the rare butterfly exists. The resort has said it wants to expand to meet the needs of a growing Clark County.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said — in 2019 — the development wouldn’t adversely modify the insect’s critical habitat.

In April 202, the Center for Biological Diversity notified the federal agency that it would file a lawsuit against the plan. US Fish and Wildlife will now re-examine its analysis, the center said.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, scientists have found fewer than 100 butterflies during surveys over the past four years.

“We’re elated that the Mount Charleston blue butterfly will live to fly another day while the Fish and Wildlife Service hopefully takes an honest look at the real impact of this proposed expansion,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This beautiful little butterfly is one of the most endangered insects in North America and we won’t stand by while its some of its last habitat is under threat.”

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