For Immediate Release, October 28, 2013

Contact: Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681

Santa Barbara Wildflower Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection
With 5,785 Acres of Critical Habitat

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.— Following an agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Endangered Species Act protection today for a rare wildflower found only in Santa Barbara County. The proposal to protect the Vandenberg monkeyflower results from a 2011 settlement with the Center to speed decisions on 757 imperiled plants and animals across the country. The proposal includes 5,785 acres of protected habitat. The beautiful yellow flower survives at only nine locations.

Vandenberg monkeyflower
Photo courtesy USFWS. This photo is available for media use.

“This is great news, because only the full protection of the Endangered Species Act for the monkeyflower and its habitat will make sure this lovely yellow flower isn’t lost forever,” said Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist at the Center.

The monkeyflower grows in sandy areas at low elevations close to the coast in a region in western Santa Barbara County, known as Burton Mesa, which lies between the Purisima Hills and the Santa Ynez River. The biggest threat to the monkeyflower is competition from invasive plants. It is also threatened by military, residential and commercial development, fire and climate change.

The proposed critical habitat is made up of remaining native maritime chaparral vegetation, much of which has already been lost to development. The proposed habitat is located on or near Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve, La Purisima Mission State Historic Park and Vandenberg Airforce Base.

The Service placed the monkeyflower on the candidate waiting list for federal protection in 2010. More than 100 plants and animals have now gained protection as the result of the 2011 agreement between the Center and the Service.

“It’s fantastic that the Fish and Wildlife Service is making such great progress addressing the backlog of plants and animals in need of protection,” said Curry. “Now Congress needs to designate more funding to help recover our country’s endangered species.”

The original scientific name of Vandenberg monkeyflower, Mimulus fremontii var. vandenbergensis, was recently changed to Diplacus vandenbergensis.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Go back