Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
One Plant from Eureka Valley Recovers and No Longer Needs Endangered Species Act Protection, Another Reclassified to Threatened

February 26, 2018

Contact(s):

Jane Hendron – 760-431-9440 ext. 205; Jane_hendron@fws.gov


The Eureka Valley evening-primrose with white cluster flowers on the sand dunes.

Eureka Valley evening-primrose Credit: Erin Nordin/USFWS

Carlsbad, California– Based on successful management of the Eureka Dunes, including reduction of significant threats from off-highway vehicles, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is delisting Eureka Valley evening-primrose and is downlisting Eureka dune grass from endangered to threatened.

These final determinations were made by the Service after reviewing information obtained through a long-term rangewide monitoring effort, peer review comments, and other data and information.

 Both plants were listed as endangered in 1978, due primarily to impacts of off-road vehicle and other recreation activities.

"We are pleased to showcase successful recovery of two more endangered species in California with the delisting of Eureka Dunes evening-primrose and reclassification of the dune grass to threatened," said Paul Souza, Director of the Service's Pacific Southwest Region. "We have an outstanding partnership with Death Valley National Park and applaud their efforts to conserve both these plants and a host of other species that call the Park home."

The Eureka Dunes were initially managed by the Bureau of Land Management which closed off-road vehicle use in 1976. Other management actions taken by BLM included increased ranger patrols, monitoring and environmental education. In 1994, the passage of the California Desert Protection Act transferred the land to the National Park Service as part of Death Valley National Park. The portion of the Park where the plants are found is now designated as a wilderness area, and impacts to the plants from off-road vehicles have been virtually eliminated. The Park has taken additional management actions as part of its ongoing efforts to conserve Eureka dune species.

Death Valley National Park superintendent, Mike Reynolds, said, "These plants only live on two dune fields in northern Death Valley National Park. It's an exciting success story that both species are in less danger of extinction than they were a few decades ago. This is due to things like wilderness protection, moving designated campsites away from the plants' habitat, and adding signs to explain how to recreate at Eureka Dunes without harming the unique plants."

In a proposed rule published on February 27, 2014, the Service initially proposed delisting both plants based on recovery. Although the primary threat to Eureka dune grass has been removed, monitoring results indicate that the largest population of dune grass is slowly declining. It is also experiencing very low levels of germination which may impact the overall health and sustainability of the plant. As such, the plant currently meets the definition of threatened, under the ESA, meaning that it could be come endangered within all or a significant portion of its range in the foreseeable future.

Eureka dune grass is the only member of Swallenia, a monotypic genus (genus containing only one single species). The plants have coarse, stiff stems that reach 20 inches in height, and have sharp-pointed leaves. Eureka dune grass goes dormant during the winter, begins to produce new shoots around February, and flowers starting in April. The flowers of Eureka dune grass are wind-pollinated and do not rely on insect pollinators. Germination and establishment of new plants is an uncommon event, but once established, hummocks can live to be decades old.

Eureka Valley evening-primrose is a perennial. It produces clusters of flowers that are white fading-to-pink. Flowers appear through the spring and summer months as long as conditions are favorable. This species of evening primrose is pollinated by hawkmoths, butterflies, and bees.

The final rule will publish in the Federal Register on February 27, 2018, but is available for public view today.

The final rule, Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan for Eureka Valley evening-primrose, and other supporting information is available online at www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2013–0131.

Photos of the plants are available on the Service’s Pacific Southwest Region Flickr page.

America’s fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. This landmark conservation law has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation and promoted the recovery of many others. The law’s ultimate goal is to recover species like the Eureka Dunes evening-primrose so they no longer need protection under the ESA.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information about our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/cno or connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.

 

 

                                                                                                   -FWS-

Eureka Dunes Flickr Album


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.