Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Two Eureka Valley Dunes Plants Proposed for Removal From Federal Protections

Feb 26, 2014

February 26, 2014
Contact: Carl Benz, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 805-644-1766;  carl_benz@fws.gov


Two Eureka Valley Dunes Plants Proposed for Removal from Federal Protection
Service Seeks Public Comments

Ventura, CA – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to remove the Eureka Valley evening-primrose and Eureka dune grass from the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This proposal is based on successful habitat conservation efforts undertaken by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Park Service (NPS).

The proposed rule is on view at the Federal Register today and will officially publish on February 27, 2014.

Both plants are found only on the Eureka Valley Dunes, a group of three dune systems – Eureka, Saline Spur, and Marble Canyon – that lie within Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, California.

Eureka Valley evening-primrose (Oenothera avita subsp. eurekensis (now accepted as Oenothera californica subsp. eurekensis) is a short-lived perennial in the evening-primrose family that occurs on the stabilized, gentle dune slopes extending out onto the shallower sand fields bordering the Eureka Dunes. It also occurs on Saline Spur and Marble Canyon Dunes.  Eureka dune grass (Swallenia alexandrae) is a perennial, mound-forming species in the grass family. Eureka dune grass occupies the gentle to relatively steep slopes of the Eureka Dunes, and variable terrain of Saline Spur and Marble Canyon Dunes.  

The plants were listed as endangered in 1978, primarily due to degradation of habitat and impacts to individual plants from off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreational activities on and around Eureka Dunes, the largest of the three dune systems.

Efforts to protect dune habitat were initiated by the BLM in 1976, with closure of the dunes to OHV activity followed by the designation of Eureka Dunes and some of the surrounding area as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.  In 1994, the passage of the Desert Protection Act included the transfer of these lands to the NPS and designation as a Wilderness Area within Death Valley National Park.

Ongoing management of the Eureka Dunes includes: closing and restoring illegal roads, installation of interpretive signs, conducting ranger patrols and identifying and maintaining campsites to minimize direct impacts to the plants and their habitats. Information gathered from ongoing, range-wide surveys indicate that population size estimates for both plants number within the thousands and both exist throughout their ranges.

Although non-native plants, climate change, herbivory, and small population size have been identified as ongoing or potential stressors to individual plants or portions of a population, they do not rise to the level of requiring protection of the plants as endangered or threatened under the ESA.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service applauds the efforts taken by the BLM and NPS for conservation of these plants and the associated dune habitats,” said Steven Henry, Acting Field Supervisor at the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office.  “We welcome any new information as well as comments submitted by the public that assist in ensuring our final decision is based on the best information available.”

The Service will accept comments and information about the proposed delisting of these plants beginning February 27, 2014, until April 28, 2014.

Comments can be submitted online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Look for the Search box and enter Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2013–0131.   

Submit comments by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2013–0131; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA, 22203.

Written requests for a hearing on this proposal will be accepted until April 14, 2014, and should be sent to: Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003.

For more information about the proposed delisting rule for the two Eureka Dunes plants, please visit: http://www.fws.gov/ventura .

Photos of the plants and their habitat are available on the Service’s Pacific Southwest Region Flickr page; http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfws_pacificsw [Eureka Dunes].

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 and promoted the recovery of many others, including America’s national bird the bald eagle.

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

 

-FWS-