Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Chicago Office Announces Availability of the Mead's Milkweed Draft Recovery Plan
Midwest Region, March 12, 2003
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Chicago Ecological Services Field Office completed the Mead's Milkweed Draft Recovery Plan and published its availability for public review and comment in the Federal Register on Mar. 18. After a 60-day comment period, the Service will respond to comments made by the public, independent peer reviewers, and others in a final recovery plan.

The Mead's milkweed was designated a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1988. The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to develop recovery plans that describe management actions needed to achieve a species? recovery and an estimate of the time and costs needed to achieve recovery. The Mead's Milkweed Draft Recovery Plan outlines steps that should be taken to prevent further decline of the species and ensure a distribution of healthy, viable populations. Steps proposed in the draft plan include protection and management of habitat, identification of new populations or potential habitat for introduction, and research on restoration, management and introduction techniques.

Extant populations of the Mead's milkweed can be found at 171 sites in 34 counties in eastern Kansas, Missouri, south central Iowa and southern Illinois. Most populations occur in the Osage Plains of Kansas and Missouri. While the species has disappeared from Indiana and Wisconsin, introduction of the plant is underway at prairie restoration sites in these states.

Mead's milkweed usually begins its seasonal growth in mid to late April. It has a single slender stalk, 8 to 16 inches high with greenish ivory/cream colored flowers, which appear in late May and early June. Young green fruit pods appear by late June; as these pods mature, they darken, and the hairy seeds borne within are mature by mid-October.

Mead's milkweed occurs primarily in tallgrass prairie, especially areas that have not been plowed and only lightly grazed. Remaining patches of tallgrass prairie continue to be lost throughout the Midwest to agriculture and residential development. Mead's milkweed can grow in hay meadows, but periodic mowing prevents milkweed plants from setting seed.

The draft recovery plan for the Mead's milkweed can be obtained from the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chicago Illinois Field Office, 1250 South Grove, Suite 103, Barrington, Illinois 60010-5091 or by accessing the Service's website at http://midwest.fws.gov/Endangered. Comments may be directed to the address above and must be received 60 days from publication of Notice of Availability in Federal Register.

Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov
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