A newly approved rule change will better protect an additional 10 plant species in danger of extinction in New Mexico.

On July 9, Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Cabinet Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst approved an amendment to the New Mexico Endangered Plant Species List and Collection Permits rule, which adds the plant species to the state endangered plant list. The rule prohibits protected endangered plant species from being collected, removed, transported, exported, processed for sale or offered for sale unless issued a valid permit for specific scientific purposes by the state forester.

The addition of the plants comes after years of research by the Forestry Division's Endangered Plant Program and other rare plant scientists across the state and took almost two years to complete. The proposal to list the plants as endangered came after public comment and input from numerous stakeholders such as landowners, livestock producers and others.

"While climate change is the primary threat to extinction of our endangered plants, this law provides an additional level of protection by prohibiting collection of some of our rarest plants," said Daniela Roth, Forestry Division Endangered Plant Program manager, in a statement. "Adding new plants to the state list should encourage land managers to provide better protection."

The amendment also delists the more common and widespread Mammilaria wrightii var. wilcoxii cactus, resulting in a total of 45 species listed endangered in the state; changes the names of three other species already on the New Mexico State Endangered Plant List to reflect current classifications; and clarifies the overall text of the rule to better reflect the law's intent.

The 10 species added to the state list of endangered plants due to their rarity and documented threats are Townsendia gypsophila (Gypsum Townsend's aster); Sclerocactus cloverae (Clover's cactus); Scrophularia macrantha (Mimbres figwort); Castilleja tomentosa (tomentose paintbrush); Penstemon metcalfei (Metcalfe's beardtongue); Cymopterus spellenbergii (Spellenberg's springparsley); and Linum allredii (Allred's flax); Agalinis calycina (Leoncita false-foxglove); Hexalectris colemanii (Coleman's coralroot); and Castilleja ornata (Swale paintbrush).

The complete rule amendments and statement of reasons are available on the EMNRD Forestry Division website at emnrd.state.nm.us/SFD. The rule amendments will go into effect upon publication in the New Mexico Register on July 28.

Currently New Mexico has 37 plant species that are listed endangered. According to the division, none of those plants are in Taos or Colfax counties.

- Report submitted by Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources

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