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Center for Biological Diversity:
Groups petition feds to protect local mountain flower
By Will Houston
As part of what is becoming a series of efforts to protect several species of North Coast wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity along with the California Native Plant Society filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday to add further protections to the Lassics lupine alpine flower — native only to Humboldt and Trinity counties.
“Without Endangered Species Act protection and recovery actions, we are at great risk of losing the Lassics lupine to extinction,” former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plant ecologist David Imper said in a statement in a center news release. “Federal protection can’t come soon enough for this beautiful, imperiled flower.”
According to the center, there are only two known populations left of the lupine made up of as few as 60 individuals, with both populations located in the Six Rivers National Forest. The pink flower grows at a 5,000-foot elevation on Mount Lassic and Red Lassic Mountain about 80 miles southeast of Eureka. The pink flower’s total global range is less than 4 acres. Previous estimates over the last 12 years showed the flower’s total population originally ranged from 500 to 1,000 individuals, according to the petition.
The petition cites decreased rainfall and snowpack, fires and seed predation by mammals to be the primary cause of the flower’s population decline since it was first discovered in 1983. A 2012 Humboldt State University master’s thesis by Helen Kurkjian cited in the petition states that conservation efforts can only go so far without more information.
“The success of the current efforts can only be considered a deferment, however, and without further research into the underlying causes of this untenable seed predation rate, the Lassics lupine could be unable to recover,” Kurkjian states.
The flower is currently not listed on either the California or federal endangered species acts.
“Lassics lupine is a unique part of the natural heritage of California, but it won’t be here for future generations if we don’t take immediate action to protect it,” California Native Plant Society Conservation Program Director Greg Suba said in a statement.
In less a month’s time, the Center for Biological Diversity has taken at least three actions in efforts to protect North Coast species. In mid-December, the center filed a lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service for not listing the Humboldt marten under the Endangered Species Act in April 2015. Earlier this week, the center filed another lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service calling for further protections for the California spotted owl.
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