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Dime-sized Daisy Recovers
Maguire Daisy Removed from Federal Endangered Species List
Photo Credit: Michelle Dela Cruz, National Park Service
In January 2011, conservationists involved in the 25-year Maguire daisy (Erigeron maguirei) recovery effort had reason to celebrate. With the best scientific information available indicating the perennial herb has recovered and no longer faced extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed it from the federal list of endangered and threatened species.
The dime-sized daisy, a member of the sunflower family, was first listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1985. At the time, only seven individual plants where thought to exist in the entire world—all in the San Rafael Swell in south-central Utah. Excessive mineral exploration and off-road vehicle recreation were to blame for this mountain dwelling perennial’s decline.
New genetic information acquired in the mid-1990s led to a dramatic change in fortunes for the rare plant. Botanists determined there was no significant difference between the Maguire daisy and E. Maguirei var. harrisonii, a plant that flourished in Capitol Reef National Park. Soon after, the Service proposed the two varieties be considered the same. Combining the two varieties into one species significantly increased the total known populations for the Maguire daisy, and in 1996, the Service was able to change the daisy’s legal status from endangered to the less critical category of threatened.
Federal land management agencies, including the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service worked collaboratively to ensure the long-term protection of the Maguire daisy and its habitat. Cooperative recovery efforts substantially increased the known number and distribution of Maguire daisy populations range-wide, stabilized populations, addressed threats, and provided adequate protection and management to ensure the plant’s long-term persistence. The current number of known individuals nears 163,000 within 10 populations in southeastern Utah's Emery, Wayne, and Garfield counties.
Approximately 99 percent of the plant’s range occurs on federal lands with substantial protective measures in place. To further ensure the continued viability of the Maguire Daisy following removal of Endangered Species Act protections, an Interagency Rare Plant Team has developed a conservation strategy—a multi-year joint project by the involved partners. Monitoring will continue for a minimum of ten years.
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