- Associated Press - Saturday, April 18, 2015

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) - An oil and gas trade group and some Colorado governments have challenged federal actions taken to help two rare plants by transplanting and reseeding, saying the effort could disrupt existing leases, ranching and other activities on public land.

The West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association sued over a Colorado State University research project involving the Dudley Bluffs bladderpod and Dudley Bluffs twinpod - two wild mustards listed as threatened under to the Endangered Species Act.

The plants are found on oil shale outcrops in Rio Blanco County.

Rio Blanco and Garfield counties are filing briefs in support of the lawsuit that names the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Interior as defendants.

Researchers say what they learn from the project might help lead to the removal of the species from the threatened list.

Eleven of the 12 identified locations for the project have existing oil and gas leases, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported (http://tinyurl.com/nnqnqvm ) Friday.

Rio Blanco County Commissioner Shawn Bolton said the plants grew naturally in the right of way for a county road that is a main access route in the county for oil and gas companies.

The county has been working on rebuilding the road, but Bolton said mitigating impacts for the plants would cost $280,000.

“We’re not paying the $280,000. It’s ridiculous,” he said.

The BLM said it would work with Fish and Wildlife and the county to resolve any conflicts that arise.

Fish and Wildlife and BLM officials said the agencies don’t comment on pending lawsuits.

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Information from: The Daily Sentinel, http://www.gjsentinel.com

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