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Sleeping Ute flower rebounds

The Sleeping Ute milkvetch was recently removed from the endangered species list.

A reassessment of threats to a wildflower found only on Ute Mountain Ute land has convinced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the species no longer needs Endangered Species protection.

As a result, the service announced last week that it has removed the Sleeping Ute milkvetch (Astragalus tortipes) from the candidate species list.

The Sleeping Ute milkvetch is a perennial plant that grows only on the Smokey Hills layer of the Mancos Shale Formation on Ute Mountain Ute Tribal land in Montezuma County. Fish and Wildlife made the finding after a reappraisal of the threats to the species and new information from by the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

Fish and Wildlife determined the plant warranted protection in 1996 based on concerns about current activities and the impact of planned or potential development within the species’ limited range. However, a lack of resources prevented the service from taking action to protect the species, and it was placed on the candidate species list with the consent of the tribe.

Earlier this year, the tribe provided the service with results of a new plant survey that estimated nearly 20,000 individual plants, almost five times as many as reported in 2000. The survey also demonstrated that the plants appeared to be flourishing in undisturbed areas, as well as areas marked by grazing, vehicle use and drilling.

The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe supported the recommendation.

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