Judge orders protection for 2 wildflowers -- Graham's beardtongue and White River beardtongue

Posted at 6:25 AM, Oct 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-27 08:36:49-04

DENVER -- A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reinstate a proposal to protect two rare wildflowers found in Colorado and Utah.

The agency proposed to designate federal land in the two states as critical habitat for the Graham's and White River beardtongue in 2013, the Denver Post reported. The agency then cited a conservation agreement it forged with Utah officials in 2014 in determining that the wildflowers don't merit federal protection.

Several environmental groups filed a lawsuit, claiming the agreement was designed to ensure the survival of oil shale mines where the plants thrive.

The judge's decision Tuesday requires the parties involved to discuss possible changes to the conservation agreement.

A Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman says the agency is reviewing the ruling.