California Protects New Endangered Species Thanks to Volunteer Botany Heroes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Liv O’Keeffe
916-447-2677, ext. 202
Ventura, Calif – Last week, the California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to list both the coast yellow leptosiphon (Leptosiphon croceus) and the Lassics lupine (Lupinus constancei) as state endangered species. These important conservation victories are largely due to two California Native Plant Society members who gathered field data, conducted research, wrote petitions, and stepped forward to champion these sensitive California species.
“This goes to show the power of expert volunteers and retired professionals,” CNPS Executive Director Dan Gluesenkamp said. “These are people who have an incredible sense of mission and shared their professional expertise to make a difference for California conservation.”
Toni Corelli, a rare plant botanist, successfully petitioned for the leptosiphon’s endangered species candidacy in December 2016. As part of that process, she worked with CNPS and staff from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to determine its requirements for survival. Discovered in the early 20th century along the San Mateo coast, the species covered coastal prairie habitat for acres. Today, it has been reduced to a single patch of fewer than 500 plants. Fish and Game agreed with Toni’s research, finding that Coastline erosion, invasive non-natives, and a proposed housing development further threaten its survival.
“Coast yellow leptosiphon is among the rarest of rare plants,” CNPS Rare Plant Botanist Aaron Sims said. “This endangered listing could be the only hope for its survival.”
Earlier in 2016, Dave Imper, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, worked with the Center for Biological Diversity to file the state petition to protect the Lassics lupine. The rare lupine is found on less than four acres on the Lassics Mountains in Humboldt County. It depends on persistent snowpack and shelter from summer heat and herbivores, and so is especially impacted by climate change. Imper and CNPS had submitted a petition to list the lupine as Federally Endangered in 2016, and this state listing further spotlights the Federal government’s failure to act and protect this special plant.
“Every species in California deserves our respect and care, and we need to come together to protect California’s remarkable diversity,” Gluesenkamp added. “Toni and Dave have given these endangered species a fighting chance against extinction.”