Longhorn beetle no longer endangered, lawsuit argues

SACRAMENTO — A group of Sacramento-area property owners filed suit on Friday to remove the valley elderberry longhorn beetle from the endangered species list.

The dime-size beetle, unique to California's Central Valley, has been the bane of developers and flood-control officials since it was first listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1980.

The beetle relies on a single host plant, the relatively hardy valley elderberry. As a result, many construction projects — including major levee rebuilding projects — have been required to take extraordinary steps such as relocating hundreds of the shrubs or planting new ones.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service already has a delisting effort under way for the beetle.

In 2006, it concluded in a status review that the species should be removed from the endangered species list, largely due to the success of habitat conservation efforts like those that have frustrated property owners.

But five years later, the delisting process still has not been completed.

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