The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service finally agreed on a plan this week to temporarily stop all new limestone mining in the San Bernardino National Forest. This will give four threatened or rare plant species a chance to do well.
As part of the plan, mining for limestone is banned on 2,841 acres in the national forest for 50 years. However, officials said in a news release Friday that the time limit could be stretched. The protection will help the rare wildflowers grow in dirt that has calcium carbonate in it. This is a substance that is used to make toothpaste, cement, medicines, and other things.
“High-grade calcium carbonate can be found in many other places, but the only place on the planet where these special plants live is confined to a small area in Southern California, primarily on the northern slopes of the San Bernardino Mountains,” Aaron Sims, the rare plant program director at the California Native Plant Society, said in a statement.
The Cushenbury buckwheat, the Cushenbury milk-vetch, the Cushenbury oxytheca, and the Parish’s daisy are all rare or endangered species.
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A long time ago, foreign mining companies, claim holders, federal and county agencies, and the California Native Plant Society got together to work out a plan to protect the rare wildflowers. In 2003, they made the Carbonate Habitat Management Strategy together.
“I worked on this plan 20 years ago and I’m thrilled that this arduous process has finally been completed,” Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d see this happen in my lifetime. These beautiful plants now have a fighting chance at survival.”