Local ecological organisations have filed a legal “emergency listing petition” seeking immediate protection for the Pariette cactus, a wildflower native only to this area that is under serious threat by the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) announcement.

“In the face of intense oil and gas drilling, the Pariette cactus is just hanging on,” spokesman for the Utah Native Plant Society (UNPS) Tony Frates warned. “It is critically important that we protect it under the Endangered Species Act.”

The oil and gas drilling projects proposed by the BLM would irreversibly damage the cactus’ only know habitat, he added, as well as the Pariette Wetlands Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

The precarious status of the Pariette is well known, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service has allegedly been considering putting the plant on the Endangered Species Act list for over a decade.

Last year, over 91% of the drilling permits granted in Utah were in the areas where this plant grows.

The BLM has estimated that over 6,500 more wells will be drilled in the Uinta Basin over the next 15 years.

“The government knows that the Pariette cactus is at risk of extinction but they keep permitting drilling in its habitat,” spokesperson for the Center for Native Ecosystems, Erin Robertson stated.

“Extinction is not sound stewardship – we must act immediately to protect this rare plant.”

By Jane Kettle

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