A group of farmers in southeast Washington is trying to stop the federal government from giving endangered species protection to the White Bluffs bladderpod, a rare plant that grows on a narrow ribbon of federal land and farms.
A farmer group is using genetic tests to claim that the plant is not as rare as it seems.
The farmers hired an agronomist to sample three plants found along the bluffs of southeast Washington. They also hired a scientist from the University of Idaho to genetically compare those samples to a handful of plant material gathered throughout the Columbia Basin.
The farm group says the results show this bladderpod is the same one that grows in many other areas of the West, not the narrow slice federal scientists have claimed. Stuart Turner is the agronomist who led the recent study.
“Unfortunately, (the Department of) Fish and Wildlife is wrong,” said Stuart Turner, an agronomist who led the recent study. “The indications are based on this technology that, based on this extensive testing and cross analysis against other samples from a wide area that is that we have one common species.”
Top plant experts say it’s difficult to tell by genetic testing whether the disputed bladderpod is its own species or simply looks different because of where it grows.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife manager Brad Thompson says the final decision on the White Bluffs Bladderpod will come near the end of November.