Endangered Species
Mountain-Prairie Region
DeBeque Phacelia
Pagosa Skyrocket
Parachute Penstemon

The three plants, which are found only in Western Colorado, are impacted by threats throughout their ranges.  Each plant faces a different set of threats.

Pagosa skyrocket photo by Ellen Mayo
Pagosa Skyrocket by Ellen Mayo

The Pagosa skyrocket grows on weathered Mancos Shale outcrops at about 7,000 feet elevation in the vicinity of Pagosa Springs in southwestern Colorado.  Two known occurrences of the species exist; the largest includes three miles of highway right-of-way and the private properties that extend for about one mile on either side.  A smaller occurrence of about 23 acres also includes highway right of way, private, and Bureau of Land Management land.  See Factsheet for this species.

Parachute beardtongue photo by Collin Ewing
Parachute Beardtongue by Collin Ewing

Parachute beardtongue grows only on oil shale outcrops on the Roan Plateau escarpment in Garfield County, Colorado. The total estimated number of plants is about 4,000 individuals.  Eighty-two percent of the plants are on lands owned by a natural gas and oil shale production company; the rest are on Bureau of Land Management land.  The species entire range is within the southern part of the Piceance Basin, one of the largest natural gas reserves in North America.

DeBeque phacelia photo by Ellen Mayo
DeBeque Phacelia by Ellen Mayo

The DeBeque phacelia grows on barren patches of shrink-swell clay of the Wasatch Formation at about 5,000 to 6,200 feet elevation in the southern Piceance Basin oil and gas fields of Mesa and Garfield Counties, western Colorado. The 21 known occurrences occupy a total of 61 acres.  Plant numbers range from 83 to 38,451, depending on weather.  The species entire range is within the southern part of the Piceance Basin, one of the largest natural gas reserves in North America.

Recent Actions: August 2012 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced August 10, 2012, that based on feedback and input from the State of Colorado, the oil and gas industry, and the public, it has refined and narrowed the final rule to designate critical habitat for three rare western Colorado plants: the Pagosa skyrocket (Ipomopsis polyantha), Parachute beardtongue (Penstemon debilis), and DeBeque phacelia (Phacelia submutica).

March 2012 A draft analysis of the potential economic impacts caused by the proposed critical habitat designation for three Federally listed Colorado plants is available for public comment until March 26, 2012. The draft assessment of the environmental effects of the proposed critical habitat for Pagosa skyrocket (Ipomopsis polyantha), Parachute beardtongue (Penstemon debilis), and DeBeque phacelia (Phacelia submutica), is required under the National Environmental Policy Act. Minor changes to unit boundaries and a discussion of further exclusions are also being considered. The comment period allows interested parties an opportunity to comment on the proposed critical habitat designation as well as the two draft documents and the proposed changes.

August 2011 In accordance with the Service's 1994 peer review policy and the OMB 2004 Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review, we will solicit independent scientific reviews of the information contained in our proposal to designate critical habitat for Ipomopsis polyantha (Pagosa skyrocket), Penstemon debilis (Parachute beardtongue), and Phacelia submutica (DeBeque phacelia). This review will occur concurrently with the public comment period for the proposed action and draft plan.

July 2011 After evaluating all the available scientific and commercial information regarding Pagosa skyrocket, Parachute beardtongue, and DeBeque phacelia, including an analysis of the threats to the species and their habitat, the Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that protection under the Endangered Species Act is warranted for these three western Colorado plant species.  The Pagosa skyrocket will be protected under the ESA as an endangered species, and Parachute beardtongue and DeBeque phacelia will be protected as threatened species.

We are also at this time proposing to designate 54,036 acres as critical habitat for these three species.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to provide Endangered Species Act protection for three Colorado plants – the Pagosa skyrocket, the Parachute beardtongue and the DeBeque phacelia.

Last updated: September 4, 2012