The Greater Hells Canyon Council, based in La Grande, Oregon, is suing the U.S. Forest Service to protect Spalding's catchfly in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

The Greater Hells Canyon Council, based in La Grande, Oregon, is suing the U.S. Forest Service to protect Spalding’s catchfly in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service

Conservationists in northeast Oregon are suing the U.S. Forest Service for reauthorizing livestock grazing on 44,000 acres of grasslands within the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 10 by the Greater Hells Canyon Council in La Grande, Oregon, seeks to protect a rare and endemic species of plant known as Spalding’s catchfly — a summer-blooming member of the carnation family.

Spalding’s catchfly is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. It is found today only in eastern Washington, northeast Oregon, west-central Idaho, western Montana and a small sliver of British Columbia, Canada.

Veronica Warnock, conservation director for the Greater Hells Canyon Council, said livestock grazing further jeopardizes the viability of Spalding’s catchfly in the area, as cattle displace soil, trample habitat and spread invasive weeds.

Read the whole story at Capital Press.