Southwest Rose-Like Plant May Get Protection

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed the Webber’s ivesia for threatened status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), while removing the Soldier Meadow cinquefoil from candidate status, according to the agency’s press release.
     The two yellow-flowered rose family plants look similar to one another and are found in specialized habitat areas in northern California and Nevada.
     The USFWS identified the two species as listing candidates in 2002. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) petitioned for listing status for the two plants in 2004. The current listing proposal is in response to a 2011 settlement between the USFWS and the CBD to speed listings for hundreds of imperiled species across the nation.
     The plants’ habitat threats can include off-highway vehicles (OHV), grazing, recreational use, mining and timber activity, wildfires, development, climate change and invasive non-native species.
     The cinquefoil is found in three sites, two in Soldier Meadow in Humboldt County, Nev., and one in Ash Valley in Lassen County, Calif., for a total of approximately 23 acres, primarily on Bureau of Land Management lands. The two locations have habitat that ranges from alkali meadows and marsh in Nevada’s Soldier Meadow, to the floodplain of Ash Creek and the sagebrush steppe in California’s Ash Valley, according to the action.
     In Soldier Meadow, the BLM has successfully reduced the recreational use impacts by designating campgrounds, building walkways, and installing interpretive signs. Some areas were fenced to exclude grazers, and some areas were closed to OHV use. The BLM is also aggressively reducing invasive plants there, according to the action.
     The Ash Valley population is partly on BLM lands and partly on private land. The BLM has stopped mining and woodcutting activity as part of a Resource Area Management Plan. Because many of the threats to the cinquefoil are being addressed by the efforts of the BLM, the USFWS has determined that the plant no longer warrants listing protection. “The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. Even though Soldier Meadow cinquefoil is rare, it appears to be stable. There are conservation measures in place that will adequately conserve the species,” Ted Koch, the USFWS’ Nevada state supervisor was quoted as saying in the agency’s press release.
     In contrast, the Webber’s ivesia grows only in clay soils that swell during spring rains then shrink and crack during the heat of summer. “The specialized soils are well developed, a process estimated to take 1,000 years,” the action noted.
     The ivesia occupies approximately 165 acres in five counties in California and Nevada between the Sierra Nevada range and the Great Basin. This plant is particularly threatened by non-native invasive plants that have “created a bed of continuous fine fuels across the sagebrush landscape,” resulting in frequent fires that burn hotter and burn larger areas. “Endangered Species Act protection will ensure that this rare desert rose is around for future generations to enjoy. Protecting it will also protect a very special type of irreplaceable habitat,” Rob Mrowka, a Nevada-based CBD ecologist noted in the group’s statement.
     Comments on the listing proposal are due Oct. 1, and a public meeting is scheduled for Sept. 10 in Reno, Nev.
     The agency also has proposed 2011 acres of critical habitat for the ivesia in a separate action. Comments on the habitat proposal are due Oct. 1, with a public meeting scheduled Aug. 22 in Reno, Nev.

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