Endangered plant gains conservation ground in Las Vegas

Nevada Division of Forestry LogoLas Vegas bearpoppy habitat to be preserved at Nellis Air Force Base under new agreement with Nevada Division of Forestry

LAS VEGAS–If the Las Vegas bearpoppy could speak, it might say, “thank you.”

Under a new permit granted by the Nevada Division of Forestry for the Nellis Air Force Base to develop a portion of the base’s land, the Air Force will set aside more than 230 acres for permanent bearpoppy habitat.

“This is a noteworthy commitment by the Air Force,” said Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons. “This state-federal partnership will significantly help protect critical Las Vegas bearpoppy habitat in southern Nevada.”

The Las Vegas bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica), a yellow-flowered plant found only in southern Nevada, is protected under state law and is considered critically endangered. Threatened buckwheat plants on site will also benefit from this agreement.

The permit granted by the Nevada Division of Forestry will allow for development of a portion of the Nellis Air Force Base for construction of military housing and flood detention basins.

The permit outlines specific construction requirements for the property, which includes the formal establishment of a conservation area that contains the highest concentration of the property’s bearpoppy plants.

While some plants will be impacted by the construction, the permit outlines a conservation agreement that must provide for permanent protection of the Las Vegas bearpoppy and maintain the area in a natural and undeveloped state.

Impacted plants will be salvaged as much as possible, including transplanting where appropriate. A qualified Nevada Division of Forestry approved biologist will also be on site daily during construction to monitor work and ensure compliance with the permit’s requirements and restrictions.

The bearpoppy population at Nellis Air Force base was identified as one of three high priority populations remaining in the Las Vegas valley portion of the species’ range. If the bearpoppy is removed from the state’s list of fully protected plant species, the conservation agreement may end.

[CORRECTION: The original article said the bearpoppy is on the federal Endangered Species List. In fact, it is on Nevada’s List of Fully Protected Plant Species, which is maintained by the Nevada Division of Forestry. We regret the error.]

The new agreement was enacted in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nevada Natural Heritage Program, which will partner in the management of the conservation area.

Contact Nevada State Forester Pete Anderson at (775) 684-2500 for more information.

MORE INFORMATION

The Nevada Division of Forestry is a division within the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The Division coordinates and manages all forestry, nursery, endangered plant species and watershed resource activities on certain public and private lands. The Division provides protection of life, property and natural resources through fire suppression, prevention programs and provides other emergency services as required.

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