WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declined to protect the Ozark chinquapin, or Ozark chestnut tree, under the Endangered Species Act, after completing a 12-month review of a petition to list the species.
The Ozark chestnut once was common to the gullies and valleys of the plains of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma where it grew to be 65 feet tall until Chestnut blight devastated existing stands of the tree.
Chestnut blight, which arrived in the U.S. around 1900, persists in the Ozark chinquapin to this day resulting in trees that rarely reach more than nine feet.
Because the blight does not kill the tree, just the parts above the roots where new shoots quickly form, the agency determined that the blight does not threaten or endanger the survival of the tree.
The agency also found that the majority of suitable habitat for the tree is on land managed by states or the federal government, where it is designated by the U.S. Forestry Service as a sensitive species, subject to management plans geared toward its survival.
The USFWS asks the public to submit any new information that becomes available concerning threats.