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University of Denver environmental law reaches endangered plant settlement

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Settlement will see government revisit decisions on Virgin Islands plants


DENVER – The University of Denver (DU) Sturm College of Law Environmental Law Clinic has reached a settlement with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior that will see the government revisit an earlier decision to deny endangered species protections to two Virgin Islands plants. The dispute dates back to 1996 when the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources sought to have the rare plants listed.

Since 2004, the Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity has pressed the federal government to first to rule on the request, and then challenged the government’s 2006 decision not to protect the plants. DU’s student law office at the Environmental Law Clinic has represented the Center.

In a settlement filed August 18 before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the government agrees to revisit its 2006 rejection. In addition, the government agrees to pay more than $50,000 in legal fees to the Center.

The plants at issue are: the agave eggersiana, a robust, perennial herb that can grow from 16 to 23 feet tall with large flowers. It is native only to the island of St. Croix and is extremely rare. And the  Solanum conocarpum, a thornless flowering shrub that grows more than nine feet tall  Native only to the island of St. John, it is one of the most endangered plants in the Virgin Islands.

Prof. Michael Harris, director of the Environmental Law Clinic, is available for questions at (720) 841-0400.

“I am confident that in its reconsideration the government will finally reach the conclusion, based on sound science, that both species are imperiled,” Harris says.


The University of Denver (, the oldest private university in the Rocky Mountain region, enrolls approximately 11,409 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Denver as a Research University with high research activity.

Contact: Chase Squires
(303) 871-2660

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