FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 8, 1997

Diana Hawkins or

Vicki Boatwright



PUBLIC COMMENT INVITED ON PLAN

TO RESTORE THREATENED PUERTO RICAN PLANT

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on a draft plan to bring about the recovery of a rare plant, Gesneria pauciflora, found only in Puerto Rico. The ultimate goal of the plan is to restore the plant to a secure status in its native ecosystem by the year 2025 so that it can then be removed from the U.S. List of Threatened and Endangered Species. It was added to the list in March 1995.

Gesneria pauciflora, a small shrub having no common name, grows in foot tall clusters with showy, yellow-orange to red flowers. The three populations of the shrub have a total of about 20 clusters at three sites in rocky streams in or near Puerto Rico's Maricao Commonwealth Forest in the western mountains in the municipalities of Maricao and Sabana Grande.

Gesneria pauciflora's precarious existence is threatened by landslides and flood damage as well as forest management practices such as deforestation and trail construction. Over collection for horticultural purposes potentially could be a problem to its long-term survival.

This draft recovery plan resulted from efforts by scientists from Commonwealth and Federal agencies and leading universities. It calls for monitoring and protecting existing populations of Gesneria pauciflora and the habitat, along with possible propagation and establishment of new populations. When finalized, the plan will guide actions of all Federal and Commonwealth agencies whose actions affect conservation of the plant.

"It is very important to us to know what the public thinks about this approach to recovering the species," said Sam Hamilton, Regional Director. Hamilton said the Service will accept written comments until November 24, 1997. Copies of the proposed plan can be obtained by writing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Boqueron Field Office, Box 491, Boqueron, Puerto Rico 00611 or by calling 787-851-7297.

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Release #R97-89


1997 News Releases

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