Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 25, 2014

Contact: Jeff Miller, (510) 499-9185

Santa Barbara Wildflower Gains Endangered Species Act Protection

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

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

“Protection for the monkeyflower is great news because the Endangered Species Act has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the plants and animals under its care, so it will ensure this little yellow flower is safeguarded from the big threats it’s facing,” said Jeff Miller with 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 activities, residential and commercial development, fire and climate change.

Last year the Service proposed designating 5,785 acres of critical habitat for the flower. Today’s listing rule says that the habitat protection will be finalized in the near future. The proposed critical habitat is made up of remaining native maritime chaparral vegetation, much of which has already been lost to development, and is located on or near Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve, La Purisima Mission State Historic Park and Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The Service placed the monkeyflower on the candidate waiting list for federal protection in 2010. In 2011 the Center and the Service reached a landmark agreement that will ensure all the species that were on the federal waiting list for protection as of 2010 will get protection decisions by 2018. So far under that agreement, 130 imperiled animals and plants have gained Endangered Species Act protection, including the monkeyflower, and another 13 have been proposed for protection.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service is making excellent progress on addressing the backlog of plants and animals in need of protection,” said Miller. “Congress must now step up and give the Service the money it needs to fully 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 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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