Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Service Proposes Listing, Opens 60-Day Comment Period for Franciscan Manzanita

Sep 07, 2011

For Immediate Release:
September 7, 2011

One Plant Left – Protection Believed Warranted for the Franciscan Manzanita
Service Proposes Listing and Opens 60-Day Comment Period to Learn More

SACRAMENTO -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has determined that the Franciscan manzanita warrants protection and is proposing to list the rare plant as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (Act).  Today’s announcement follows a 12-month review of the species’ status, and opens a 60-day public comment period to gather more information before a final determination is made.  The Service will also consider information to determine whether critical habitat for the plant is prudent or is determinable. 

In the fall of 2009 a botanist identified a single specimen of a Franciscan Manzanita, (Arctostaphylos franciscana), a species previously thought to be extinct in the wild in an area adjacent to Doyle Drive in San Francisco, which was being cleared for a reconstruction project.  Quickly following discovery of the plant, a conservation plan was designed to protect the plant, which was then transplanted to the Presidio of San Francisco.   That same year, environmental organizations petitioned the Service to list the plant as endangered on an emergency basis under the Act and to designate critical habitat.   The plant had first been discussed for protection in 1976, but was not listed at that time because it was thought to be extinct in the wild since 1947.

It is the Service’s priority to make implementation of the Act less complex, less contentious and more effective. 

In January, 2010 the Service found that issuing an emergency listing was not warranted for although a single plant of this species remained in the wild, the individual had recently been transplanted to a new location on federal land.  Additionally, the conservation plan successfully addressed the concerns raised by the petition to the extent that none of those concerns constituted an "emergency posing a significant risk to the well-being of the species".  During its 12-month review, the Service determined that listing Franciscan manzanita as an endangered species under the Act is now warranted. 

The Act requires the Service to designate habitat critical to the recovery of the species at the time of listing “to the maximum extent prudent and determinable”.  The Service believes that critical habitat is not determinable at this time due to lack of knowledge of what physical and biological features are essential to the conservation of the species, or what other areas outside the site currently occupied, may be essential for the conservation of the species. 

Under the Act, designation of critical habitat is not considered prudent if designating critical habitat can be expected to increase the degree of threat to the species, or if it would not be beneficial to the species.  Critical habitat is not considered determinable under the Act when there is not enough information to analyze the impacts of the designation and/or when the biological needs of the species are not sufficiently known to identify the habitat that would be critical to the species’ recovery.

To ensure that the final rule is completed using the best available science and current information, the Service is soliciting information for 60 days following the 12-month finding from state and federal natural resource agencies and all interested parties regarding the Franciscan manzanita and the critical habitat designation.

The 60-day public comment period closes November 7, 2011.

Information should be submitted by one of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal:  http://www.regulations.gov.  In the Keywords box, enter Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2010–0049 and follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • U.S. mail or hand-delivery:  Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2010-0049; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. 

The Service will post all information received on http://www.regulations.gov.  This generally means posting any personal information included in the submission (see the Information Requested section in the proposed rule for more details).

The Federal Register notice and additional information on today’s announcement can be found at www.fws.gov/sacramento

America’s fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. The Service has been working throughout this process with our conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species, such as the Franciscan manzanita.  The California Department of Transportation, the National Park Service, the Presidio Trust, and the California Department of Fish and Game have been instrumental in protecting and preserving the plant and helping the species on the path to recovery. 

 -- FWS --

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/cno. Connect with our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/usfwspacificsouthwest, follow our tweets at http://twitter.com/USFWSPacSWest, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfws_pacificsw/