Group files lawsuit to protect rare plant

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A group of Oregon conservationists are suing the U.S. Forest Service for reauthorizing livestock grazing on grasslands within the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

The Capital Press reports the lawsuit, filed Wednesday by the Greater Hells Canyon Council in La Grande, looks to protect a rare species of plant known as Spalding’s catchfly.

Spalding’s catchfly, which is found only in eastern Washington, northeast Oregon, west-central Idaho, western Montana and British Columbia, Canada, is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Greater Hells Canyon Council Conservation Director Veronica Warnock says the Forest Service is obligated to protect Spalding’s catchfly under the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area Comprehensive Management Plan.

Fewer than 1,000 catchfly plants are known to exist in the grazing area along the lower Imnaha River.