Action timeline

May 2004 – In the largest listing effort in the history of the Endangered Species Act, the Center petitioned the Bush administration to place 225 plants and animals, including the Cape Sable thoroughwort and the Florida semaphore cactus, on the endangered species list. Seventy-nine percent of the species covered in the petition had been on the candidate waiting list for at least 10 years.

May 16, 2005 – The Fish and Wildlife Service released its annual candidate notice of review. The review designated 286 species, including the Cape Sable thoroughwort and the Florida semaphore cactus, as candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act but argued that protection was precluded by other actions to protect species.

November 8, 2005 – The Center, as part of a coalition of conservation groups, filed suit against the Bush administration for delaying the protection of 283 species by allowing them to remain on the candidate waiting list. 

July 12, 2011 – The Center reached a landmark agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service that mandated protection decisions for 757 species, including the Cape Sable thoroughwort, the Florida semaphore cactus and the aboriginal prickly apple.

October 25, 2011 – Due to our historic settlement forcing the Service to move forward on protection for 757 species, the Obama administration issued a new “candidate notice of review” identifying 244 plants and animals, including the Cape Sable thoroughwort, Florida semaphore cactus and aboriginal prickly apple, as needing the protections of the Endangered Species Act to avoid extinction. 

October 11, 2012 – The Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Endangered Species Act protection for the aboriginal prickly apple, Florida semaphore cactus and Cape Sable thoroughwort due to the threat of sea-level rise. The agency also proposed 8,565 acres as protected critical habitat for the Cape Sable thoroughwort. 

December 10, 2012 – The Center submitted formal comments to support the proposal to protect the three plants, as well as to grant critical habitat to the Cape Sable thoroughwort.

October 23, 2013 – As part of our 2011 settlement, the Service announced Endangered Species Act protection for the aboriginal prickly apple, Florida semaphore cactus and Cape Sable thoroughwort.

January 7, 2014 – In accordance with our 2011 landmark settlement with the Center, the Service finalized designation of 10,968 acres of protected critical habitat for the Cape Sable thoroughwort.

January 21, 2016 – The Service designated 4,411 acres of critical habitat for the Florida semaphore cactus in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties and 3,444 acres for the aboriginal prickly apple in Manatee, Charlotte, Sarasota and Lee counties.

Florida semaphore cactus photo   Keith A. Bradley