Nestled among the slopes of Nevada’s Silver Peak Range are six patches of Tiehm’s buckwheat, a rare flowering plant found nowhere else in the world. Only an estimated 42,000 plants remain on 10 acres. But over the weekend, conservationists discovered that 40% of the total population had been destroyed.
The destruction occurs amid a conflict over the flower’s habitat. For the past year and a half, Donnelly and Naomi Fraga, director of conservation at the California Botanic Garden, have been working to protect Tiehm’s buckwheat from a proposed mine for lithium and boron, elements involved in producing clean energy technology. The operation would encompass the entire range of the plant’s population, risking its extinction in the wild.
“I would not oppose the mine if it was done in a way that didn’t put the whole species at risk, and was environmentally sound,” said Fraga. “What is the cost of green energy if it causes the extinction of whole species?”