An endangered plant native to the Silver Peak Range is growing roots in a Gardnerville greenhouse known as Tiehm’s Buckwheat Conservation Center.
Tiehm’s Buckwheat was listed as an endangered species in 2022 and its only known habitat is 10 acres of land in southwestern Nevada, which is also the sight for a Lithium-Boron mine being produced by Ioneer.
Ioneer, a lithium-boron producer is conducting the Rhyolite Ridge Project in Esmeralda County which is expected to break ground on mine construction in 2024 and begin production of lithium and boron by 2026.
During the greenhouse’s grand opening Wednesday, Ioneer Managing Directer Bernard Rowe said Ioneer has no intention of trespassing on the plant’s habitat.
Since coming across Tiehm’s Buckwheat during their exploration of the ridge in 2016, Ioneer has worked to protect the plant, developing and implementing a BLM approved protection plan, he said.
Rowe said there were three pillars of that plan including avoidance, protection and conservation.
“We want to avoid any disturbance of the plant and to make sure that our team is aware when we are out there and that we are careful of any indirect or direct disturbances,” said Rowe. “We want to make sure we use the best practice in minimizing direct and indirect impacts and when we do have impacts to monitor that, control it, mitigate it and compensate for it.”
The third pillar is conservation and is the main goal at Tiehm’s Buckwheat Conservation Center.
“There is a need to conserve and the greenhouse is a part of that and an ongoing project too, that is going to help in the long run of the plant,” said Rowe. “It’s been ongoing for some time now, it’s not just sitting waiting for a mine to come down, it’s happening now and its ongoing for the plant and the benefit of the plant for today and tomorrow.”
The greenhouse currently houses 300 flowering Tiehm’s Buckwheat.
“The main purpose of the greenhouse is preservation and research,” said Botanist Florencia Peredo Ovalle. “I’m working right now to improve the numbers.”
Peredo Ovalle said the type of soil the plant is being grown in at the greenhouse is different than their natural habitat.
“It is growing very good here and I think that is a good thing we have discovered,” she said.
Peredo Ovalle said over time the Tiehm’s Buckwheat being grown in the greenhouse will be introduced into the wild, but the underlying goal at this time is preservation.