U.S. Government Declines to Protect Two Rare Plants in U.S. Virgin Islands
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands The U.S. government has declined to give federal protection to two plants species found only in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refused to put the plants on the endangered species list because there was no evidence they were threatened, said Lilibeth Serrano, a department spokeswoman.
The decision comes nearly one year after the U.S. government settled a lawsuit brought by the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity in which it agreed to consider whether the agave eggersiana and solanum conocarpum should be protected. The department's decision was announced Tuesday.
"That's a shame," said Dan Clark, a plant specialist who requested in 2001 that the plants be protected. "Especially when they're on private property and we can't protect them, that's tough."
Fewer than 50 specimens of agave eggersiana, an aloe-like plant that grows up to 25 feet (8 meters) tall and has small pink flowers, are left in the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix, while fewer than 200 solanum conocarpum, a bushy plant with small purple and yellow flowers, remain on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John, said Clark, who works with the Virgin Islands National Park.
Fish and Wildlife said there was no accurate count of how many plants of each species were left.
The center might sue to have the decision overturned, said Peter Galvin, a spokesman for the group.
Source: Associated Press