Judge won't leave plant's ESA protections in place

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Associated Press

Posted on December 6, 2012 at 9:30 PM

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lost a bid this week to leave federal protections in place for a desert plant whose listing threatens to disrupt public-land ranching.

U.S. District Magistrate Candy Dale on Tuesday refused to leave a threatened designation for slickspot peppergrass in place while the wildlife agency works to remedy errors it made when it listed the plant under the Endangered Species Act in 2009.

In August, Dale ordered the federal agency to reconsider the listing according to her instructions.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter sued the government three years ago, arguing protections for slickspot peppergrass weren't grounded in the best science and ignored Idaho's preservation efforts.

On Thursday, Otter hailed Dale's latest decision, saying it shows there's no "slam-dunk" case for simply relisting the disputed plant.

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