The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed a Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA) for the San Fernando Valley spineflower, a plant species in southern California that has been proposed for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The CCA is a voluntary conservation agreement between the Service and Newhall Land and Farming Company that plans measures to address threats and conserve the species, and monitor the effectiveness of those measures.
“The on-the-ground measures outlined in the CCA will go a long way toward furthering conservation of the San Fernando Valley spineflower by establishing two new self-sustaining populations and protecting important habitat within the species' range,” said Cat Darst, Assistant Field Supervisor of the Service’s Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office. “We appreciate our long-term partnership with Newhall Land and Farming Company and look forward to the progress that will be made toward conservation of the species.”
The San Fernando Valley spineflower CCA describes a strategy to establish new, protected populations of the plant within its historical range and increase the resiliency of existing populations. Newhall Land and Farming Company will voluntarily conserve an additional 1,498 acres of its property for the benefit of the spineflower and carry out conservation activities within portions of these lands and within a portion of the Petersen Ranch Mitigation Bank. Spineflower introduction will occur on a total of at least 10 acres within the conservation areas. The conservation actions will result in at least two new, self-sustaining spineflowerpopulations across the range of the species.
“FivePoint is proud to partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to further conserve the San Fernando Valley spineflower,” said Emile Haddad, FivePoint Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “This agreement continues our efforts on Newhall Ranch to conserve natural resources, and expands on our commitment to the spineflower.” FivePoint is the Aliso Viejo-based parent company of Newhall Land and Farming Company.
The San Fernando Valley spineflower is a low-growing, herbaceous, annual plant in the buckwheat family and is typical of many winter-spring native annuals that occur in the Mediterranean climate of California. Its historical range is thought to extend from near Elizabeth Lake, south through the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County, to near Santa Ana in Orange County. Presumed to be extinct by the botanical community for more than 70 years, the San Fernando Valley spineflower was rediscovered in Ventura County in 1999 and Los Angeles County in 2000.
Today two populations of spineflower are known to exist – one at Laskey Mesa in the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve in Ventura County, the other on land owned by Newhall Ranch and Farming Company near Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County.
The Service designated the San Fernando Valley spineflower as a candidate species for listing under the ESA in 1999, and the species was proposed for listing as threatened under the ESA in 2016.
With the release of the CCA, the Service is reopening the comment period on the proposed rule to list the species for an additional 30 days. The notice is available today in the Federal Register Reading Room under Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2016–0078 and will officially publish on November 13, 2017. The Service will accept public comments on the proposal through the next 30 days until December 13, 2017. Comments may be submitted electronically or by hard copy. A copy of the proposed rule, CCA, and other information about the San Fernando Valley spineflower is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at http://www.fws.gov/ventura.
(1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal:
http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS–R8–ES–2016–0078, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the “Proposed Rules” link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”
(2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R8–ES–2016–0078; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Headquarters, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803. All comments will be posted on http://www.regulations.gov.
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