NEWS FOR NATIVE PLANTS
ACRES TO BE PROTECTED FOR SIX CALIFORNIA PLANTS
Fulfilling court orders
won by the Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society,
the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has issued proposed rules to designate
and protect 92,244 acres of critical habitat for six endangered California plants.
Five of the six plants have been waiting for federal protection since 1975 when
the Smithsonian Institution petitioned to place them on the endangered species
list. They languished in bureaucratic limbo for 25 years until the Center and
the Native Plant Society filed suit to protect them. With 181 threatened and
endangered plants, California is second only to Hawaii in plant imperilment.
Center initiatives have
led to the protection of 126 species under the Endangered Species Act, including
86 plants and the designation of 37.6 million acres of critical habitat.
The purple amole (Chlorogalum
purpureum), 21,980 acres. A member of the lily family, the amole occurs
in oak woodland and grassland habitats in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties.
It is threatened by military training, off-road vehicles, fire suppression,
cattle grazing and invasive non-native species. Amole is an Aztec name brought
to the U.S. by Spanish explorers from Mexico. It is also sometimes called a
soap plant because Native Americans crushed the underground bulb into a lather
with which to glue arrows together. The fibers of the bulb jacket were used
to make brushes.
The Kneeland prairie penny-cress
(Thlaspi californicum), 74 acres. A member of the mustard family, the
penny-cress is endemic to serpentine soil on the outer north coast range of
Humboldt County. It has declined by 48% since 1997 with only 5,100 plants remaining
today. It is threatened by habitat fragmentation and destruction, primarily
in the form of roads and helipad construction.
The La Graciosa thistle
(Cirsium loncholepis), 44,315 acres. A member of the sunflower family,
the thistle occurs in coastal dune habitat and wetlands in northern Santa Barbara
and southern San Louis Obispo counties, including the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes
National Wildlife Refuge. It has only 17 small and isolated locations left,
many with less than 60 plants each, and 5 with fewer than 10 plants. It is threatened
by agriculture, oil field development and aggressive non-native species.
The Lompoc yerba santa (Eriodictyon
capitatum), 8,495 acres. A shrub in the waterleaf family, the yerba santa
has lavender flowers and reaches heights of ten feet. It grows in maritime chaparral
and bishop pine forests in western Santa Barbara county, and has just 4 known
locations: 2 on Vandenberg Air Force Base, and 2 on oil fields and private land,
with 11-20 populations each. Its threats are land fragmentation, fire management
practices, and naturally occurring catastrophic events.
The Gaviota tarplant (Deinandra
increscens ssp. villosa), 14,020 acres. A member of the sunflower family,
the tarplant occurs in rare needlegrass grasslands on coastal terraces and ridgelines
in the Santa Ynez Mountains, including Vandenberg Air Force Base. Most of the
populations are on private lands owned by the petroleum industry, and are threatened
by habitat loss and degradation due to development of oil and gas facilities.
The Santa Cruz tarplant
(Holocarpha macradenia), 3,360 acres. A member of the aster family, the
aromatic tarplant occurs in coastal prairie and marine terrace habitats. It
has been reduced to just 13 native populations along the coast of central CA,
primarily near the cities of Santa Cruz and Soquel. Habitat destruction and
alteration caused by urban development is the most significant cause of its
FILED TO PROTECT HABITAT AREAS FOR EIGHT CALIFORNIA PLANTS
The Center for Biological
Diversity and the California Native Plant Society filed a lawsuit on 11-15-01
against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for
eight threatened plants in San Diego, Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside,
San Bernardino, Inyo and Mono counties of southern California.
The goal of the suit is
to promote conservation and recovery of imperiled plants, and to improve land
management, especially rivers and wetlands, by federal agencies. All eight species
are on federal public lands or jurisdictions, rather than on private land.
The Lane Mountain milk-vetch
(Astragalus jaegerianus) is only known to occur at four western Mojave
Desert sites north of Barstow, CA, near the Ft. Irwin tank base in San Bernardino
County. It has cream to purple flowers and silvery leaves, and is widely scattered
at each site. This endangered plant is threatened by proposed U.S. Army Ft.
Irwin expansion, with related tank training, military vehicle trespass on to
off-limits BLM lands, dry wash recreational gold mining, off-road vehicle use,
increasing fire frequency, and associated fire suppression activities.
The Coachella valley milk-vetch
(Astragalus lentiginosus var. coachellae) grows on loose wind-blown and
alluvial sands on dunes and flats in the Coachella Valley area of the Sonoran
Desert near Palm Springs. It has deep pink-purple flowers, and a mottled fruit
or pod. Urban sprawl either directly destroys lands on which this endangered
plant occurs, or reduces the source and transport of the blow sands that maintain
its habitats. Roads and off-road vehicle use also damage habitat.
Peirson's milk-vetch (Astragalus
magdalenae var. peirsonii) is located at Algodones Sand Dunes, in the Sonoran
Desert of eastern Imperial County, CA, and is listed as threatened. It grows
in sandy and gravelly soils, and has white or pale flowers. Its main threats
are destruction of habitat from intensive off-road vehicle use, water projects
Fish slough milk-vetch (Astragalus
lentiginosus var. piscinensis) is a threatened plant occurring in the Great
Basin Desert northwest of Bishop, CA, in Inyo and Mono counties. It is restricted
to a 6-mile stretch of alkaline flats paralleling Fish Slough, a desert wetland
ecosystem. Trampling and grazing by cattle, roads and off-road vehicle use,
modification of wetlands, the Red Willow Dam and related expansion of Fish Slough
Lake are all threats.
Spreading navarretia (Navarretia
fossalis) occurs primarily in vernal pool ecosystems, and, in 1998, had
fewer than 30 populations left. Nearly 60% are concentrated in three locations:
Otay Mesa in southern San Diego County, along the San Jacinto River in western
Riverside County, and near Hemet in Riverside County. It is an annual in the
Phlox family, and is threatened by on-going degradation and destruction of vernal
pools due to urbanization, agricultural practices, off-road vehicles, flood
control and widespread habitat loss.
Munz's onion (Allium
munzii) is an endangered perennial in the Lily family, with only 13 populations
located in western Riverside County, CA, including the Gavilan Hills, Harford
Springs County, Paloma Valley, Skunk Hollow, Domenigoni Hills, Bachelor Mountain,
and the Elsinore Mountains.
San Jacinto Valley crownscale
(Atriplex coronata var. notatior) is an endangered plant reduced to just
12 populations, primarily associated with the San Jacinto River and Old Salt
Creek tributary drainages in the San Jacinto, Perris, Menifee and Elsinore Valleys
of western Riverside County, CA.
Thread-leaved brodiaea (Brodiaea
filifolia) is a member of the lily family, with violet flowers. It is listed
as threatened, and in 1998, just 37 populations were known in southern California.
15 are in the cities of Vista, San Marcos and Carlsbad in northern San Diego
County. The remaining 22 populations are scattered within Orange, Los Angeles,
Riverside, San Diego and San Bernardino counties.
information on the suit and species.
SPECIES PETITION FILED TO PROTECT RARE ARIZONA PLANT
The Center for Biological
Diversity filed a petition 1-2-02 to list the Gentry indigobush (Dalea tentaculoides)
as an endangered species. Gentry indigo bush is found in only three places
a recently discovered site in Mexico, a site on the west slope of the Baboquivari
Mountains on the Tohono O'odham Reservation, and in Sycamore Canyon on the Mexican
The population in Sycamore
Canyon occurs in the Gooding Research Natural Area established to protect rare
plants such as indigobush. Despite this protection, livestock grazing on the
Bear Valley Allotment in combination with an extensive road network have caused
degraded watershed conditions that lead to excessive erosion and large floods,
threatening the continued survival of the plant. Exacerbating these problems,
trespass cattle from Mexico and Forest Service lands have been observed trampling
and eating the rare native plant.
Gentry indigobush is a perennial
herb in the legume family with violet flowers. It occurs in sandy, gravelly
soils in the flood plains of small creeks. It can resprout from stems following
burial or scouring following light flooding, but complete burial or severe scouring
associated with more violent floods has been observed to result in severe population
declines. The most recent surveys indicate there are roughly 500 plants in Sycamore
Canyon. Because the plant reproduces asexually, however, the true number of
individuals is impossible to estimate and is almost certainly fewer.
a member of the Center for Biological Diversity, and ensure a future for wildlife