Idaho's slickspot peppergrass endangered species victory reverses WWP court victory

Chief U.S. Magistrate Candy Dale followed up her earlier decision that listing the slickspot peppergrass was flawed by removing it from the threatened species list Thursday.

Her decision came after Idaho Gov. Butch Otter used the same playbook that the Western Watersheds Project and Advocates for the West used, going to court to get the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list slickspot peppergrass.

Now for the third time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has to decide whether to list the annual flowering bush that grows in wet areas of Southwest Idaho’s sagebrush steppe desert.

“I strongly encourage the federal government to take Judge Dale’s reasoned decision to heart and recognize that there is not a slam-dunk case for simply relisting the plant,” Otter said.

On the other side, Western Watersheds has argued the best science shows the plant should be listed and several other judges have agreed, repeatedly. Each time Idaho’s Republican political leaders have leaned on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stop listing even though most of its scientists have long considered the plant’s listing as warranted.

This time a judge is on Idaho’s side. Wouldn’t it make sense for everyone if Idaho, Fish and Wildlife and Western Watersheds sat down together and found common ground?

I’m not saying this is easy but all of this process is wasting precious resources that could be devoted to preserving the plant and its habitat.

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