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Two Rare Plants|Make ‘Threatened’ List

WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today will list as threatened two rare plants found only in a stretch of the Columbia River near the Hanford nuclear site: the White Bluffs bladderpod and Umtanum Desert buckwheat.

The listing was to be published today in the Federal Register, the WildEarth Guardians said in a statement.

"These two rare plants were included in WildEarth Guardians' settlement agreement with the Service expediting listing for 252 candidate species, some of which have been waiting decades for protection. Both plants have been on the candidate list for over 13 years," the environmental group said.

"These two plants are found only on the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River in Washington state, the last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River in the United States. Most of the Hanford Reach is within Hanford Reach National Monument, the former site of the 'B' nuclear reactor which created the plutonium used to bomb Nagasaki in World War II."

WildEarth Guardians described the threatened plants in its statement: "White Bluffs bladderpods are sturdy, densely-leaved perennials with showy yellow flowers in May, June, and July. They are cliff-dwellers, growing on near-vertical exposures of weathered paleosol, an ancient, buried soil with a composition that may reflect the significantly different climate present during its formation. White Bluffs bladderpods are threatened by wildfire, irrigation-induced landslides, recreational activities including off-road vehicle use, and invasive species.

"Umtanum Desert buckwheat are slow-growing perennials that form low mats of pale green leaves studded with yellow flowers. Individual plants may live over 100 years. They face threats from wildfire, seed predation, and encroachment by invasive species."

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