Apparently the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and numerous environmental groups did not do their homework.

Newstalk 870 first broke the news in late April and early May about the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife attempting to slip several thousand acres of land in the White Bluffs area of Franklin County into an Environmentally Sensitive Area.

The ESA was supposedly to protect a near-extinct species of sagebrush known as the Bladderpod. According to federal and state authorities, bladderpods were only found in certain areas on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, Hanford Reach, and in the White Bluffs area on the Pasco side.

Last year, environmental groups sued the government over the flower and part of the settlement was to create ESAs which would protect it. The ESA in White Bluffs would have taken away several hundred acres of privately-owned farmland without public hearings.

Once word got out and Rep. Doc Hastings got involved the federal agencies backed off saying they would hold hearings on the matter before enacting the ESA.

The story has taken another big turn as this week a new study released by the Washington State Farmers Association shows the Bladderpod flowers don't actually exist in Franklin County at all! The association paid $20,000 for an in-depth study of flowers and plants on the 491 acres of farmland that would have been part of the ESA.

The group of scientists used DNA testing and other methods to conclusively prove Bladderpods don't exist on the Pasco side of the river. The farmers now say this means the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has no right to take their land.

Today was the last day for groups to offer public comment on the proposed ESA.