Threatened species

The federal government has pushed back the possible threatened listing of two rare plants that could affect farmers in southeast Washington. Umtanum desert buckwheat and the White Bluffs bladderpod have become very controversial, because part of the plants’ habitat spans valuable crop ground.

It’s a big topic of conversation at the Country Mercantile restaurant where many Franklin County farmers lunch. Ami MacHugh is an area cherry and horse farmer whose land could be affected by the possible federal protections.

A songbird called the streaked horned lark has a curious propensity for risky neighborhoods. That's not a good quality for a bird proposed for listing as a threatened species. Its preferred hangouts include airports, Army training fields, and dredge spoil dumping sites along the lower Columbia River. A two-state experiment seeks to find out if these rare larks can be enticed to safer habitats.

Farmers in southeast Washington packed a County Commission hearing Tuesday morning in Pasco. They’re angry because a flowering desert plant called the White Bluffs bladderpod may be designated as a federally threatened species by next week.

It likes to live on high desert bluffs near the Columbia River. Since farming and development have taken over much of its desert habitat – the plant has become more rare.

Photo credit: USFWS / USFWS

Bald eagles are no longer considered threatened by the state of Oregon. The state's Fish and Wildlife Commission voted Friday to remove the iconic bird from the state list of endangered species.