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Conservationists sue to protect butterfly

Conservationists sued the US Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday seeking protection for a rare butterfly they say is threatened by off-road vehicles at one of the largest sand dunes in the West.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2006 15:12 IST

Conservationists sued the US Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday seeking protection for a rare butterfly they say is threatened by off-road vehicles at one of the largest sand dunes in the West.

Environmentalists want the agency to declare the Sand Mountain blue butterfly an endangered species because, they say, its habitat is being destroyed at the only place it is known to live the Sand Mountain Recreation Area in western Nevada.

The Bureau of Land Management controls activities at the dune, which is 600 feet tall and stretches for two miles. It attracts an estimated 50,000 off-roaders annually on motorcycles, dune buggies and all-terrain vehicles.

The butterfly depends on a unique shrub, the Kearney buckwheat, which covers about 1,000 of the recreation area’s 4,795 acres. It is found nowhere else.
The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management have been working with local groups to save the butterfly without necessarily listing it as endangered.
Tentative plans call for more signs designating approved travel routes, fencing to protect the habitat and additional law enforcement.

First Published: Jan 07, 2006 15:12 IST