FWS lists slickspot peppergrass as threatened species
74 Fed. Reg. 52014 / Vol. 74, No. 194 / Thursday, October 8, 2009 / Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing Lepidium papilliferum (Slickspot Peppergrass) as a Threatened Species Throughout Its Range AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine that Lepidium papilliferum (slickspot peppergrass), a plant species from southwest Idaho, is a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This final rule implements the Federal protections provided by the Act for this species. We have determined that critical habitat for L. papilliferum is prudent but not determinable at this time.
Slickspot peppergrass is a monocarpic species (it flowers once and then dies) and displays two different life history strategies. The annual form reproduces by flowering and setting seed in its first year, and dies within one growing season. The biennial life form initiates growth in the first year as a vegetative rosette, but does not flower and produce seed until the second. Like many short-lived plants growing in arid environments, above-ground numbers of Lepidium papilliferum individuals can fluctuate widely from one year to the next, depending on seasonal precipitation patterns. Sites with thousands of aboveground plants one year may have none the next, and vice versa. Above-ground plants represent only a portion of the population; the seed bank (a reserve of dormant seeds, generally found in the soil) contributes the other portion, and in many years constitutes the majority of the population. Seed banks are adaptations for survival in a ‘‘risky environment,’’ because they buffer a species from stochastic (random) impacts, such as lack of soil moisture. Photo by J.Ferguson from the Idaho Natiove Plant Society
EXCERPT: From a statistical standpoint, the extreme variability in annual abundance or density estimates greatly reduces the ability to reliably detect a long-term trend in the population without many years of standardized data. .. However, as we can reasonably anticipate the continuation or increase of all of the significant threats to L. papilliferum into the foreseeable future, even after accounting for ongoing and planned conservation efforts, and based on the observed significant negative correlation between the primary threats of wildfire and invasive nonnative plants, particularly B. tectorum, and the abundance of L. papilliferum, we can reasonably infer that the negative consequences of these threats on the species will continue, and, under current conditions, population declines will likely be observed within the foreseeable future to the point at which L. papilliferum will become an endangered species.
KEITHINKING: Here come the lawyers. The very detailed analysis demonstrates that FWS knows what is coming: more litigation with ATVs and livestock interests. The species has already been in and out of court. See ESA blawg. See also, story by Idaho’s KTVB and information page from The Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation, and blogging by Demarcated Landscapes, the Westerner and Ralph Maughan