U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Threatened Status for San Fernando Valley Spineflower

On September 15, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed to list as threatened the San Fernando Valley spineflower (Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina), a plant species native to Southern California, under the Endangered Species Act.  The proposal is one of dozens under a settlement reached in litigation challenging USFWS’s failure to propose listing or determine that listing is not warranted for 251 candidate species.  The proposed rule to list the plant species as threatened ends over 16 years on USFWS’s candidate list; it was listed as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act in 2001.

According to the Federal Register notice, USFWS is accepting public comments on the proposed listing through November 14, 2016.

The San Fernando Valley spineflower is an annual species in the buckwheat (Polygonaceae) family. The spineflower was believed to be extinct since 1929 when it was rediscovered in southeastern Ventura County on the then-proposed Ahmanson Ranch development in 1999.  A second population was discovered a year later in northwestern Los Angeles County in the Newhall Ranch development.  The Ahmanson Ranch development did not go forward and the property was acquired by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy for open space and recreation.  The Newhall Ranch development has prepared a spineflower conservation plan proposing to preserve and manage over 75 percent of the spineflower population on the project site.  No other populations of spineflower are known.

The proposed rule cites habitat degradation, non-native, invasive plant and animal species, and potentially climate change as ongoing and future threats to the species. USFWS declined to designate critical habitat for the spineflower because information needed to evaluate the impacts of designation is not currently available. A determination on critical habitat is required within one year of the final listing decision.

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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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