For Immediate Release, July 20, 2010
Contact: Ileene Anderson, Center for Biological Diversity, (323) 654-5943, email@example.com
Habitat Protected for Two Rare Southern Oregon Plants
MEDFORD, Ore.— Following a settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today designated 9,930 acres of critical habitat for two imperiled plants, the Cook’s lomatium and the large-flowered woolly meadowfoam. The final designation included 1,108 acres (10 percent) less than what the agency originally proposed last year.
“With protection of their vernal pool habitat, these rare Oregon plants have a chance at survival,” said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center. “But the designation falls short of providing enough habitat to recover the two plants, which is the primary goal of the Endangered Species Act.”
The two plants were listed as endangered species in 2002, but the government failed to designate critical habitat for them until the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit in 2007. Once an area is designated as critical habitat, the Endangered Species Act requires federal agencies to ensure that any activities they authorize do not harm or destroy that habitat. The Endangered Species Act mandates that critical habitat be designated for all federally listed species.
These two plants are threatened by urban sprawl, off-road vehicle use, nonnative species, mining, grazing and destruction of wetlands. At the time that the species received Endangered Species Act protection, both reported and unreported fills of vernal pool wetlands were occurring continually.
“Designating critical habitat will add a crucial layer of protection and promote the expansion and eventual recovery of these species,” said Anderson.
Cook’s lomatium is a perennial member of the carrot family that was first discovered only in 1986. It has pale yellow flowers and pumpkin-shaped fruits. Only a handful of populations remain at two separate locations separated by 30 miles; one lies in the Illinois River Valley and the other in Rogue River Valley’s Agate Desert.
Large-flowered woolly meadowfoam is a delicate annual with stems and leaves that are covered in short, fuzzy hairs. It is restricted to just a few sites in the Agate Desert of Jackson County in the Rogue River Valley. Both species rely entirely on a few disappearing seasonal wetlands and vernal pools.