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Butterfly Could Close Off-Road Area

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Environmentalists want to draw a line on Sand Mountain by closing 1,000 acres to vehicles to protect a blue butterfly. That would eliminate 25 percent the area east of Fallon enjoyed by off-road vehicle enthusiasts. They question just how rare the butterfly is. According to Nature Conservancy representatives, vehicles pose a threat to the viability of Sand Mountain and its unique plants and invertebrates. They say the problem is loss of vegetative cover because vehicles harm Kearney buckwheat, a food source for the Sand Mountain blue butterfly. Its status is listed as “sensitive” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Off-highway vehicle enthusiasts like Jon Crowley, who´s president of the nonprofit group Friends of Sand Mountain, acknowledge the species is sensitive. But he´s not ready to close the dunes. He says the butterfly is not known to live elsewhere, but he would like to see that verified. He says there are about 30 sand dune areas in Nevada, and he would like to see those areas checked for the butterfly before parts of Sand Mountain are closed.