YAKIMA, Wash. — Two plants that occupy narrow bands on bluffs overlooking the Columbia River in the Hanford Reach will be protected under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday.
The plants are the Umtanum desert buckwheat and the White Bluffs bladderpod, each of which has been a candidate for ESA protection since 1999 because of the threat posed by wildfire, competition from non-native plants and small population size. The only known population of Umtanum desert buckwheat is on a wide mountain range in Benton County, while the White Bluffs bladderpod is found exclusively along a 10-mile strip of bluffs on the Hanford Reservation.
Monday’s announcement designates as “critical habitat” 344 acres for Umtanum Desert buckwheat and approximately 2,861 acres for White Bluffs bladderpod.
Although non-federal lands are included in these areas, activities there will not necessarily be affected. Only if an activity is authorized, funded or carried out by a federal agency will the agency need to work with the Service to help landowners avoid, reduce or mitigate potential impacts to the species or its habitat.