Thousands of tiny plants at center of Nevada mine dispute destroyed

Local News

In this Sept. 12, 2020, photo provided by the Center For Biological Diversity, is the scene where thousands of rare desert wildflowers have been dug up at Rhyolite Ridge, about 200 miles southeast of Reno, Nev. Federal officials are investigating the destruction of a significant portion of the remaining population of an extremely rare desert wildflower that’s being considered for endangered species protection and could jeopardize plans to build a lithium mine in Nevada, the Associated Press has learned. (Patrick Donnelly/Center For Biological Diversity via AP)

RENO — State and federal authorities are investigating the mysterious loss of a significant swath of a rare desert wildflower that’s being considered for federal protection at a contentious mine site in Nevada.

The Australian mining company, Ioneer Ltd., and state biologists are investigating the unprecedented incident 200 miles southeast of Reno.

They believe small mammals most likely caused the damage to thousands of plants at the only place Tiehm’s buckwheat is known to exist on earth.

Conservationists suspect a more sinister scenario.

They think somebody dug up as many as 17,000 plants while U.S. wildlife officials are considering declaring the plant endangered.

The Center for Biological Diversity has fought the mine project, recently filing an SEC complaint against Ioneer. The complaint alleges that Ioneer misrepresented to investors the progress on gaining regulatory approval for the mine project.

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