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For Immediate Release, August 26, 2008

Contact:  Ileene Anderson, Center for Biological Diversity, (323) 490-0223 or (323) 490-0223 (cell) or

Critical Habitat Proposed for Endangered San Diego Ambrosia, Rare California Plant

SAN DIEGO, Calif.— Tomorrow, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose 802 acres of critical habitat for the endangered San Diego ambrosia. Critical habitat is essential for recovery of this rare plant whose numbers have declined drastically from over 50 populations to just 18. The proposal includes three general areas in the western part of Riverside County covering 262 acres and four general areas covering 540 acres in San Diego County. Despite the precarious status of the species, only locations where the plant currently occurs were included in critical habitat.

“The San Diego ambrosia is in desperate need of critical habitat not just for its existence but for its recovery,” said Ileene Anderson, biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This proposal is a step in the right direction but needs to be expanded to give the plants room to grow, so that their numbers are robust enough to prevent extinction.”

Populations of San Diego ambrosia currently occur only in San Diego and Riverside Counties in California and in the northern state of Baja, Mexico. Today’s designation of critical habitat provides key protection for the ambrosia, which has been eliminated from many areas by urban development, road building, golf courses, and other urbanizing effects.

“Critical habitat is a must for this rare plant’s survival and recovery,” added Anderson. “Designating only existing areas where the plant is found provides no chance for recovery, confining the species to a potential deathbed of extinction.”

The San Diego ambrosia is a low, creeping, perennial blue-gray herb that spreads by means of slender, branched, underground rhizome-like roots. Clusters of tiny, light-yellow flowers bloom summer through fall. Generally found on flat or gently sloping grasslands and on upper terraces of rivers and drainages, the ambrosia is also found in openings in coastal sage scrub, adjacent to vernal pools, and on rare occasions in moderately disturbed sites such as roadsides.

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