Posted: May 7, 2014 7:19 AM
Updated: May 7, 2014 7:19 AM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Conservationists in Utah are condemning a proposed deal between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state and county officials intended to keep two rare species of desert flowers off the federal list of endangered species.
Environmentalists have been trying for decades to win Endangered Species Act protection for the Graham's and White River beardtongue species of penstemon.
The Fish and Wildlife Service formally proposed listing last year of the plants that grow only on oil shale outcroppings in Utah and Colorado.
But the agency issued a draft conservation agreement Monday it says would better protect the plants without dire economic consequences a listing could have for oil exploration.
Tony Frates of the Utah Native Plant Society says the agreement is intended to protect the oil industry, not the wildflowers.