Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Indian Knob Mountainbalm to Remain an Endangered Plant Species Under the Endangered Species Act

Dec 10, 2013

For Immediate Release - December 10, 2013

Contact: Stephanie Weagley, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 805-512-6758 or 805-644-1766;

Indian Knob Mountainbalm to Remain an Endangered Plant Species
Under the Endangered Species Act

Ventura - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today it has completed a status review of Indian Knob mountainbalm (Eriodictyon altissimum), and concluded it does not warrant reclassification from its current listing as an endangered species to threatened at this time. The finding was made after a thorough review of all available scientific and commercial information regarding the status of and threats to the species.

Indian Knob mountainbalm is a rapid-growing, short-lived evergreen shrub that occurs in open areas of coastal dune scrub and maritime chaparral habitats, reaching heights up to 13 ft. It is present in two areas of western San Luis Obispo County:  near the community of Los Osos, approximately 11 miles west of the city of San Luis Obispo; and in the Indian Knob area, approximately 5 miles southeast of the city.

When Indian Knob mountainbalm was listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1994, the plant was only conserved in Montaña de Oro State Park. At that time, primary threats to the species were habitat loss from development, surface mining, and oil well drilling. Since then, these threats have been reduced, mainly through additional permanent protection of lands where this species occurs. These conserved lands include the Morro Dunes Ecological Reserve, which is owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife; the Broderson parcel, owned and managed by the County of San Luis Obispo; and portions of Guidetti Ranch, managed by the City of San Luis Obispo.

However, since the Service’s 2009 5-year review and recommendation to downlist Indian Knob mountainbalm to a threatened species, additional information has been received identifying new or worsening primary threats to the species. Invasive, nonnative grasses, particularly perennial veldt grass (Ehrharta calycina) now poses the strongest threat to the plant and its habitat. The distribution and density of rapidly spreading veldt grass has greatly increased over the past several decades in or adjacent to all locations where the Indian Knob mountainbalm is found. 
Since the Service’s 2009 5-year review, additional surveys for Indian Knob mountainbalm have been conducted; however, two occurrences once documented in the Los Osos area have not been rediscovered, leading the Service to consider that they are now extirpated. 

Therefore, the Service has determined that the imminence, severity and magnitude of ongoing threats indicate Indian knob mountainbalm continues to be in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. For this reason, downlisting to threatened status is not warranted.

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.

On December 21, 2011, the Service received a petition by the Pacific Legal Foundation to reclassify Indian Knob mountain balm from endangered to threatened. The petition was based on information and recommendations contained in the Service’s 2009 5-year species review.

A copy of the 12-month finding and other information about Indian Knob mountainbalm is available at:, Docket Number FWS–R8–ES–2013–0116, or at Photos of the plant are available on the Service’s Pacific Southwest Region Flickr Page

The Service encourages the public to continue to submit any new information concerning the status of, and threats to Indian Knob mountainbalm that would assist the Service in monitoring and evaluating the status of this species.

Comments and information concerning the 12-month finding on a petition to reclassify Indian Knob mountainbalm as a threatened species should be sent to Stephen P. Henry, Deputy Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA, 93003.

The ESA provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife and plants. This landmark conservation law has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation and promoted the recovery of many others. The law’s ultimate goal is to recover species so they no longer need protection under the ESA.

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 Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel, and download photos from our Flickr page.