Nonprofit sues US to protect shrub in northeastern Caribbean

The Center for Biological Diversity has sued the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, accusing it of not protecting an endangered shrub once thought to be extinct that grows in some areas of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on Tuesday, accusing it of not protecting an endangered shrub once thought to be extinct that grows in some areas of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.

The shrub known as marrĂ³n bacora can grow up to 10 feet (3 meters) high and produces lilac flowers with a yellow center. It is found on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands and on Tortola in the neighboring British Virgin Islands.

The Arizona-based nonprofit group said the shrub is threatened by development and climate change, noting that St. John was battered by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

It said the first petition to protect the shrub was submitted in 1996, just a couple of years after it was rediscovered. The group said the U.S. government agency agreed to protect the shrub in 2020 but argued that it has not received final protection.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service did not immediately return a message for comment.