Recovered Running Buffalo Clover Delisted from the ESA
Recovered Running Buffalo Clover Delisted from the ESA

Photo by USFWS

Last Friday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) finalized the removal of the now-recovered Trifolium stoloniferum (running buffalo clover) from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants protected under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).  Running buffalo clover is a perennial species with small white flowers and leaves divided into three leaflets.  The plant produces creeping stems that “run” along the surface of the ground to re-root and form new clusters of clover.

The USFWS initially listed the running buffalo clover as an endangered species under the ESA on June 5, 1987.  There was only one known population at the time of listing, but there are now 175 known populations across Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  The species relies on periodic disturbances to the ecosystem in order to open the surrounding tree canopy, ensure sufficient filtered light, and allow the plant to outcompete other later successional species.  The USFWS posits that running buffalo clover may have historically depended on bison to create these disturbed habitats and help disperse the clover’s seeds.  Nowadays, the USFWS notes that current logging practices and periodic grazing provide the moderate disturbance necessary to maintain the species.

The USFWS’s final rule removing the running buffalo clover from the list of species protected under the ESA will become effective on September 7, 2021.

Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.

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