Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Service Proposes San Clemente Island Lotus and San Clemente Island Paintbrush Be Reclassified from Endangered to Threatened

May 15, 2012

Contact:         

Stephanie Weagley, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office – 760-431-9440 ext. 210
Jane Hendron, Carlsbad  Fish and Wildlife Office – 760-431-9440 ext. 205

May 15, 2012

Service Proposes San Clemente Island Lotus and San Clemente Island Paintbrush Be Reclassified from Endangered to Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act and Determines Reclassifying San Clemente Island Bush Mallow Is Not Warranted

Carlsbad, CA – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it is proposing to reclassify San Clemente Island lotus and San Clemente Island paintbrush from endangered to threatened status under the Endangered Species Act (Act). The proposal reflects information about the status of and threats to the species suggesting they no longer meet the Service’s criteria as endangered. 

The Service determined that reclassifying San Clemente Island bush mallow is not warranted at this time. Today’s finding was made after the Service conducted a thorough review of the best scientific and commercial information available.

All three plant species are restricted to San Clemente Island, located 64 miles off the coast of San Diego and owned by the U.S. Department of the Navy. The island is the primary maritime training area for the Navy Pacific Fleet and Navy Sea, Air and Land Teams (SEALS).

An ‘endangered’ species is one that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. A ‘threatened’ species is one that is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.

The Service treats threatened species similarly to endangered species with regards to regulatory protections afforded species under the Act, such as the prohibitions of ‘take’ for a species and requirements for consultation by federal agencies. However, for a threatened species, the Act allows more management flexibility than is permitted for an endangered species.

Current threats to the species (military training activities, land use, erosion, nonnative plants, and fire) still exist and will continue into the foreseeable future; however, each species’ range has substantially increased since first being listed under the Act and the numbers of plant occurrences have increased.

 The Service has determined that the imminence, intensity and magnitude of ongoing threats to San Clemente Island lotus and San Clemente Island paintbrush do not indicate the plants are presently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

Furthermore, through the Navy’s implementation of natural resource management and its 2002 Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP) for the island, numerous conservation actions have taken place to reduce threats impacting these species. They include, but are not limited to the following activities: plant monitoring surveys, genetic research, erosion and fire control, and nonnative species removal. Thus, downlisting San Clemente Island lotus and San Clemente Island paintbrush to  threatened status is warranted.

Although the Service recommended downlisting San Clemente Island bush mallow from endangered to threatened in our 2007 status review, at this time we believe the plant continues to be in danger of extinction throughout its range due to a change in frequency and intensity of military training enacted in 2008, and the associated impacts in particular areas where this plant occurs. These threats, coupled with the plant’s low genetic diversity and areas closed for monitoring and conservation actions due to safety reasons, do not warrant a reclassification.

The Service anticipates current conservation and management efforts will continue for these species and we will continue to actively engage the public and others in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover species and their habitats.

In May 2010, the Service received a petition by the Pacific Legal Foundation to downlist San Clemente Island lotus, San Clemente Island paintbrush and San Clemente Island bush mallow from endangered to threatened under the Act. The petition was based on information and recommendations contained in the Service’s 2007 5-year reviews of the plants.

 In January 2011, we published a 90-day finding and concluded that the petition and information in our files provided substantial information indicating reclassification for these species may be warranted.

 A copy of the 12-month finding, proposed rule and supporting information can be viewed online today at the Federal Register Public Inspection Page. The official copy will be published on May 16, 2012, and will be posted on www.regulations.gov. Look for the Search box and enter the Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2012–0007. Photos of the plants may be viewed in the Service’s Pacific Southwest Region plant set on Flickr.

 Comments and information on the proposed rule must be received by July 16, 2012, and submitted by one of the following methods:

Electronically at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter the Docket No. mentioned above and follow the instructions.

U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2012–0007; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA, 22203.

Requests for a public hearing on the proposed rule must be submitted in writing by July 2, 2012, to the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 92011. Additionally, new information, materials, or questions concerning the not warranted reclassification finding for San Clemente Island bush mallow may be submitted to the Carlsbad address.

 - 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/