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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.


Follow the truth.

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.


Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

« Federal Judge, reversing FWS rule, says Northern Rocky Mountain wolves are one population, so Wyoming cannot be managed differently from Idaho and Montana | Main| Humans vs. species? Hunting of tigers prevents delisting, while wind farm striking of Indiana bats necessitates permits »

Two plants, two stories: sole specimen of soon-to-be-listed San Francisco manzanita left the Golden Gate Bridge for the Presido, but once rare Tennessee Purple Coneflower now recovering and soon to be delisted

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75 Fed. Reg. 48294 / Vol. 75, No. 153 / Tuesday, August 10, 2010 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2010-0049 / MO-92210-0-0008-B2
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition to List Arctostaphylos franciscana as Endangered with Critical Habitat

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list Arctostaphylos franciscana (Franciscan manzanita or San Francisco manzanita) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, (Act) and to designate critical habitat. Based on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing this species may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status  of the species to determine if listing the species is warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding this species. Based on the status review, we will issue a 12–month finding on the petition, which will address whether the petitioned action is warranted, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act.

Arctostaphylos franciscana is a low, spreading to ascending evergreen shrub in the heath family (Ericaceae) that may reach 2 or 3 feet in height when mature. Arctostaphylos franciscana is endemic (native and restricted) to the San Francisco peninsula, California, and historically occurred in areas with serpentine soils and bedrock outcrops.  The species has been reduced to the single remaining wild plant because of loss of its original habitat at all other known locations, and that single plant was recently relocated to the Presidio.  Photo by Michael Chasse / National Park Service, available online at Bay Nature.

EXCERPT RE: RELOCATING A ONE-OF-A-KIND.  Prior to October, 2009, Arctostaphylos franciscana had not been seen in the wild since 1947.  It was originally known from three locations: the Masonic and Laurel Hill Cemeteries in San Francisco’s Richmond district, and Mount Davidson in the south-central part of San Francisco...  In October 2009, an ecologist identified a plant growing in a concrete bound median strip along Doyle Drive in the Presidio as Arctostaphylos franciscana. The plant’s location was directly in the footprint of a roadway improvement project designed to upgrade the seismic and structural integrity of the south access to the Golden Gate Bridge. The identification of the plant as A. franciscana has since been confirmed with 95 percent confidence based on morphological characteristics. Additional tests of ploidy level indicate that the plant is diploid, consistent with A. franciscana.  Preliminary results from molecular genetic data also increase the confidence that the plant belongs to A. franciscana, although genetic analysis shows evidence that the plant is a descendant of a distant hybridization event, a situation that is thought to be quite common in the genus. Based on the best available scientific information we consider the species to be A. franciscana.

Several agencies, including the Service, established an MOA and conservation plan for the species. The conservation partners concluded it was not feasible to leave the plant undisturbed at its original site, due to impacts on public safety and to cultural resources related to a potential curtailment or redesign of the roadway improvement project.  The conservation plan recommended that the plant be moved to a new site within the Presidio. The plan included measures to take cuttings from the plant, both from non-rooted stems and from layering stems (stems which have rooted at their leaf nodes), for vegetative propagation.  The plan also called for collection and eventual propagation of seeds (including seeds in the soil around the plant’s original location), and for genetic testing of resulting plants (since seeds fertilized in the wild would likely produce hybrids). Additionally, because the roots of most Arctostaphylos individuals establish a mutually beneficial association with species of mycorrhyzal fungus living in the soil, the conservation plan established means by which the soil for propagating cuttings and seeds should be inoculated with spores from such fungi. The plan also evaluated potential translocation sites, established procedures for preparation of the new site and for the translocation itself, and called for management and monitoring (both short- and long-term) of the translocated plant and all newly propagated plants, with the goal of eventually establishing self-sustaining populations of the species in the wild.  The translocation of the Arctostaphylos franciscana plant to an active native plant management area of the Presidio was accomplished, apparently successfully and according to plan, on January 23, 2010. Subsequent monitoring reports indicate the plant continues to do well at its new location

LINKS: "The Presidio's Miracle Manzanita" by Bay Nature


75 Fed. Reg. 48896 / Vol. 75, No. 155 / Thursday, August 12, 2010 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2010–0059; 92220–1113–0000–C6 / RIN 1018–AW26
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the Tennessee Purple Coneflower From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants

SUMMARY: Under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to remove the plant Echinacea tennesseensis (Tennessee purple coneflower) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants due to recovery. This action is based on a thorough review of the best available scientific and commercial data, which indicate that this species’ status has improved to the point that E. tennesseensis is not likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Our review of the status of this species shows that all of the threats to the species have been eliminated or significantly reduced, adequate regulatory mechanisms exist, and populations are  stable. We also announce the availability of the draft post-delisting monitoring plan. This proposed rule completes the 5-year status review for the species, initiated on September 21, 2007.  

A member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae), Echinacea tennesseensis is a perennial herb with a long and fusiform (i.e., thickened toward the middle and tapered towards either end), blackened root. In late summer, the species bears showy purple flower heads on one-to-many hairy branches.  The flowers of this plant  nearly always face east, and the plant prefers full sun and well–drained average soil.  Photo from Tennessee DOT

EXCERPT: The Service first approved the Tennessee Coneflower Recovery Plan on February 14, 1983 and revised it on November 14, 1989.  According to the recovery plan, Echinacea tennesseensis will be considered recovered when there are at least five secure wild populations, each with three self-sustaining colonies of at least a minimal size. A colony will be considered self-sustaining when there are two juvenile plants for every flowering one. Minimal size for each colony is 15 percent cover of flowers over 669 square meters. Downlisting (reclassification from endangered to threatened) will be considered when each of the five secure wild populations has two colonies.  There were an estimated total of 146,000 individual plants in 1989. Recovery efforts have secured habitat for 19 colonies that are self-sustaining and distributed among six geographically defined populations. All but 1 of the 19 introduced colonies have greater than 100 flowering stems, and the estimated total number of plants in these colonies ranged from 866 to 52,997.  These 19 secured, self-sustaining colonies accounted for an estimated 761,055 individual plants in 2005, or approximately 83 percent of the total species’ distribution; colonies that we do not consider secure accounted for 159,224 individual plants, or approximately 17 percent of the total species’ distribution.