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Critical habitat proposed for Mount Charleston blue butterfly

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife)
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife)
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Updated: 7/14 2:39 pm
LAS VEGAS — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced plans to designate approximately 5,561 acres on Mount Charleston in southern Nevada’s Spring Mountains as critical habitat for the endangered Mount Charleston blue butterfly.

The land comprising the proposed critical habitat is 99 percent federally owned and mostly within designated wilderness. The butterfly was listed as endangered in October 2013 under the Endangered Species Act. The proposed critical habitat rule will appear Tuesday in the Federal Register, opening a 60-day public comment period on the proposal.

“Critical habitat” is a term in the ESA that identifies geographic areas of particular importance to the conservation of a threatened or endangered species. The ESA defines “conservation” as the actions leading towards the eventual recovery of a species to the point where it is no longer threatened or endangered.

The Mount Charleston blue butterfly (Plebejus shasta charlestonensis) is a distinct subspecies of the wider-ranging Shasta blue butterfly. The butterfly occupies high elevations in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, approximately 25 miles west of Las Vegas.

The Mount Charleston blue butterfly was given ESA protection because of the threat posed by the loss and degradation of its habitat. The species is likely to experience continued habitat loss due to changes in natural fire regimes and succession, fuels reduction projects, and the implementation of recreational development projects.

Additionally, climate change and invasive nonnative plants will increase the inherent risk of extinction for the Mount Charleston blue butterfly.

The acreage proposed as critical habitat for the butterfly contains host and nectar plants, as well as open areas essential to the conservation of the species. Plants upon which the Mount Charleston blue butterfly depends are Torrey’s milkvetch (Astragalus calycosus var. calycosus), Mountain oxytrope (Oxytropis oreophila var. oreophila), and Broad keeled milkvetch (Astragalus platytropis).

The Service will hold a public information open house on the proposed critical habitat. The open house is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, at the Interagency Building, 4701 N. Torrey Pines Drive.

People needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in the open house are asked to contact Dan Balduini, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, as soon as possible via email to daniel_balduini@fws.gov or by telephone at (702) 515-5480.


— From news release
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