State Legislature Approves CNPS-Sponsored Assembly Bill 223 to Protect Dudleya
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nick Jensen, California Native Plant Society, 916-447-2677 x 278, email@example.com
Today, the state legislature approved the CNPS-sponsored Assembly Bill (AB) 223 in an important step to combat the rampant poaching of California’s native succulents known as dudleya. The bill, authored by San Diego Assemblymember Chris Ward, is the first California bill specifically drafted to protect plants from poaching. AB 223 makes it illegal to harvest dudleya in California without permits or landowner permission, and establishes penalties for individuals convicted of doing so. Dudleya (aka liveforevers) live in rocky habitats statewide. Home to 42 of 68 species and subspecies in the genus, California is the epicenter of dudleya diversity, many of which are rare. Ten species are listed as threatened or endangered by the state and/or federal governments.
In recent years, law enforcement officials have documented an alarming increase in the illegal commercial-scale harvest of dudleya, with entire hillsides stripped of plants by poachers. While law enforcement officials have seized tens of thousands of plants destined for export and sale, experts fear that this is only a small fraction of the dudleya that have been taken from the wild. Some mature dudleya plants may be as old as 100 years and serve important functions in ecosystems from stabilizing cliffs against erosion to providing food for animals and nectar for pollinators. Individual dudleya can sell for anywhere from $30 to $1000 on the international market.
“What is happening to California’s dudleya follows a disturbing trend in the international trade of plants and animals,” said CNPS Conservation Program Director, Dr. Nick Jensen. “Whether we are talking about the ivory tusks of elephants, shark fins, or beautiful and charismatic plants like dudleya, when we put a price on living creatures we put targets on their backs. Some dudleya are known from one or very few populations and poaching for the international market can send these imperiled species to extinction.”
CNPS is grateful for the leadership of Assemblymember Ward in authoring and guiding AB 223 through the legislature. The bill provides law enforcement officials and district attorneys with the tools they need to effectively deter future poaching operations. “AB 223 is an important step toward protecting this precious and irreplaceable portion of our state’s world-renowned botanical heritage,” said Jensen. “We urge Governor Newsom to sign this bill into law and put a stop to the illegal trade in dudleya.”
The California Native Plant Society is a nonprofit organization working to save and celebrate California’s native plants and places via plant science, advocacy, education, and horticulture. CNPS has nearly 10,000 members in 35 chapters throughout California and Baja to promote its mission at the local level.