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Center for Biological Diversity:
San Francisco Chronicle, September 8, 2011

Feds move to protect one-of-a-kind S.F. bush
By Peter Fimrite

SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal wildlife officials recommended endangered species protection Wednesday for a San Francisco manzanita plant that was believed to be extinct until 2009 when a single shrub was discovered in the Presidio.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing the Franciscan manzanita under the Endangered Species Act. The finding, reached after a yearlong study of the plant, opens a 60-day public comment period.

Environmental groups including the Wild Equity Institute, Center for Biological Diversity and California Native Plant Society petitioned for the listing two years ago. The Wild Equity Institute then sued in June, accusing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar of failing to protect the last remaining specimen in the wild.

The ground-hugging shrub, known scientifically as Arctostaphylos franciscana, was thought to have been wiped out in 1947, when the old Laurel Hill Cemetery was bulldozed.

Then, in October 2009, Daniel Gluesenkamp, the director of habitat restoration at Audubon Canyon Ranch, spotted the plant's distinctive white flowers flowing down a bluff next to Doyle Drive that had recently been cleared of trees.

The endangered designation would mean anyone who removes or tampers with the plant could face criminal prosecution and fines. It would also qualify the plant for federal conservation funds. A final decision is expected within a year.

© 2011 Hearst Communications Inc.

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton