Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Service Announces Proposed Rules for Two Species of Mint in Southern California

Jun 08, 2011

For Release: June 8, 2011

Contact: Jane Hendron, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office – 760/431-9440 ext. 205


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Proposed Rules for Two Species of Mint in Southern California

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today a proposed rule to address new taxonomic information regarding willowy monardella, a plant listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as endangered since 1998.

At the time of listing, willowy monardella was identified on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants as Monardella linoides ssp. viminea, one of several subspecies of monardella linoides. New taxonomic information indicates the currently listed entity actually consists of two separate species – willowy monardella (Monardella viminea) and Jennifer’s monardella (Monardella stoneana).

Although both plants are members of the mint family and have woody bases with aromatic leaves, they differ in leaf width, bract length and width, and flower cluster width. Additionally, some of the occurrences identified as willowy monardella in the 1998 listing rule and in the November 8, 2006, critical habitat designation are actually Jennifer’s monardella.

Willowy monardella is restricted to three watersheds north of Kearny Mesa in San Diego County. Almost all occurrences of the plant are on land owned and managed by the Department of Defense, the County of San Diego and the City of San Diego, with a few plants found on private and State land.

Jennifer’s monardella occurrences are further south in San Diego County, in the vicinity of Otay Mesa, Otay Mountain, and Tecate Peak. The plant is found primarily on land owned or managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the City of San Diego, or State of California.

In light of the new taxonomic information, the Service assessed threats to both species and determined that willowy monardella should remain listed as endangered. However, our review indicates Jennifer’s monardella does not require protection under the ESA. Therefore, those occurrences of the plant originally thought to be willowy monardella, but which are actually Jennifer’s monardella, will no longer be afforded Federal protection or included on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Plants.

For the species willowy monardella, the Service is now proposing to revise its 2006 critical habitat designation. The proposed rule includes approximately 348 acres of land in San Diego County. About 172 acres of proposed critical habitat covered by the City of San Diego’s Subarea Plan and 36 acres covered by the County of San Diego Subarea Plan under the Multiple Species Conservation Program are being considered for exclusion from the final designation.

An additional 1,546 acres of essential willowy monardella habitat on Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, is exempt from proposed critical habitat because the Air Station has an Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan that provides a conservation benefit to the species.

A copy of the proposed rule can be viewed online today at the Federal Register Public Inspection Page. The official copy will be published on June 9, 2011, and posted at www.regulations.gov. To view the proposed rule or submit comments, look for the box that reads “Enter Keyword or ID” and enter the Docket number for this rule, which is FWS-R8-ES-2010-0076.

Written comments must be sent to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2010-0076; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 Fairfax Drive, MS-2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted until August 8, 2011, and written requests for public hearings must be submitted to the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office by July 25, 2011.

A draft economic analysis of the proposed critical habitat for willowy monardella is in preparation and will be released for public review and comment at a later date.

Critical habitat is a term in the ESA. It identifies geographic areas that contain features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and may require special management considerations or protection. The designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, wilderness, reserve, preserve, or other conservation area. It does not allow government or public access to private lands. Federal agencies that undertake, fund or permit activities that may affect critical habitat are required to consult with the Service to ensure such actions do not adversely modify or destroy designated critical habitat.

In the absence of Federal involvement, the ESA does not provide any greater protection to listed plants on private lands than they already receive under state law. The ESA also does not prohibit “take” of listed plants on private lands, but landowners must still comply with state laws protecting imperiled plants.

The Service’s priority is to make implementation of the ESA less complex, less contentious and more effective.  The agency seeks to accelerate recovery of threatened and endangered species across the nation, while making it easier for people to coexist with these species.

-- FWS --

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