The past two years have seen a herculean response by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and other agencies working with the scientific community to save the last wild and growing Franciscan manzanita; a plant thought to be extinct in the wild.
Our two organizations, along with the Presidio Trust and other partners, took immediate steps to protect and recover this species when it was spotted in 2009 along a highway construction project in San Francisco. In a matter of weeks, state and federal agencies, scientists and non-profits drafted a comprehensive conservation plan that has saved the Franciscan manzanita.
Without this collaborative effort and prompt response, it’s likely this lone plant would have not survived the activities associated with road construction. After consulting with us, the California Department of Transportation had cranes move the mother plant and 25,000 pounds of surrounding soil to an undisclosed location in the hills of the Presidio.
As the mother plant was prepared for translocation, biologists collected cuttings and fruits as well as adjacent soil that might contain seeds and essential microorganisms for survival and recovery of this rare plant.
Establishing self-sustaining wild populations is challenging, especially when only one plant remains. By focusing efforts on action, we've been able to have the manzanita thriving in its new location; growing, blooming and setting seeds as a dedicated team continues to monitor its health. Material collected at the time of translocation was given to different botanical gardens for controlled propagation of new plants to be introduced back into the wild in the future.
Reducing or eliminating the threats to imperiled species is only possible through the collaboration of many partners—species experts, other federal and state agencies, tribes, non-governmental organizations, academia, and others.
Conservation that slows or stops the downward decline of a species and begins its recovery process under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires time and resources.
We are proposing to list the species as endangered under the ESA offering the rare species protected status. And for the next 60 days, we are requesting comments from the public, other concerned agencies, the scientific community or any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule.
In particular, we would like data on the historical and current status, range, distribution and population size of this species, including the locations of any additional populations of this species. In addition, we request any information on current or planned activities in the areas occupied by the species and possible impacts of these activities on this species.
You can learn more about how to send in comments, as well as read the Federal Register notice at www.fws.gov/sacramento.
It’s not often that we get a second chance to save a species that was once thought to be extinct. Today, with the help and support of numerous volunteers, biologists, botanists and botanical gardens, the species has a future. We are proud of the actions that our employees took and the leadership that they showed in getting the job done. A species was saved, and a critical economic infrastructure project moved forward. This is the very best of public service and government.