(KCPW News) The Nature Conservancy has purchased a 135 acre parcel from the Utah School and Institutional Trust Land Administration in the White Dome area of St. George. West Desert Regional Director Elaine York notes that the area contains a significant portion of what remains of the endangered dwarf bear poppy population.
"This is the last privately owned property for this plant. It contains the habitat for about 20 percent of what's left in the entire world for this particular plant. It grows in the St. George area, nowhere else in the entire world," York said.
The conservation area will also protect at risk species like the zebra-tailed lizard and loggerhead shrike bird, along with the threatened Siler pincushion cactus and rare native wildflowers. York says the area has unique gypsum formations which can't be replicated.
"A number of biologists have tried to germinate the seeds in a greenhouse, even using those same soils and they cannot get it to germinate in a green house. So this is the only way you can protect this plant, is by protecting the habitat," York said.
This purchase is part of the Conservancy's vision for an 800-acre preserve that is planned to be completely acquired from SITLA by 2010. These land purchases will provide SITLA with over a million dollars and a grant from Fish and Wildlife services to fund public schools.