Americana: In Search of the Elusive Lousewort

Many perfectly legitimate problems have delayed construction of the mighty Dickey-Lincoln dam, a $690.3 million hydroelectric project on the St. John River in northern Maine. Among them: lack of money, environmental protests that it would flood a wilderness area and doubts about the benefit it would bring. But one threat to the project was a problem that seemed downright silly: the discovery of a few clumps of a greenish-yellow wild flower called the Furbish lousewort growing near the dam site. Because the plant, named for Botanist Kate Furbish, was not known to exist anywhere else, the dam location could conceivably have...

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