W-G 97-50


Jon Gilstrom, Olympia, Washington - 360/753-6040
Susan Saul, Portland, Oregon - 503/231-6121

June 11, 1997


The Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the golden paintbrush, a grassland plant found in western Washington and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, has been listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

The golden paintbrush, which grows up to 12 inches tall, has brilliant golden yellow flowers. It grows in grasslands at elevations below 300 feet from Thurston County, Washington, north through the Puget Sound region to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Historically, the golden paintbrush occurred from the Willamette Valley in Oregon north to Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The plant is now extinct in Oregon.

Only 10 separate populations of this plant are known to exist. Eight populations are in Washington: in Thurston County, one population occurs on Washington Department of Natural Resources land; in Island County, one population is on Department of Defense land, one population is located on state park land, and three other sites are privately owned; and in San Juan County, two populations occur on private land. In British Columbia, two populations occur on islands managed by the Ministry of Parks off the southern coast of Vancouver Island.

The golden paintbrush is threatened by habitat loss through succession of grassland to shrub and forest habitat and by conversion of habitat to agricultural, residential, and commercial use. Because of its showy golden-yellow blooms, people may pick flowers at recreation sites, so collection and trampling are additional threats. Grazing by livestock and browsing by rabbits and deer are threats at some of the 10 sites.

The Endangered Species Act directs Federal agencies to protect and promote the recovery of listed species. Collection of listed plants on Federal lands is prohibited. Proposed Federal projects and actions, including activities on private or non-Federal lands that involve Federal funding or permitting, require review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure they will not jeopardize the survival of any listed species, including plants. The Endangered Species Act does not prohibit "take" of listed plants on private lands, but landowners should be aware of state laws protecting imperiled plants.

The golden paintbrush is listed as endangered by the Washington Natural Heritage Program and as "critically imperiled" by the province of British Columbia. These designations alert landowners to the sensitive nature of the species but they do not provide legal protection.

Copies of the final rule to list the golden paintbrush as threatened may be obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Washington Office, 510 Desmond Drive, Suite 102, Lacey, Washington 98503-1273. The final rule to list the golden paintbrush as threatened was published in the Federal Register on June 11, 1997.

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NOTE TO EDITORS: Color slides of the golden paintbrush are available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by calling Jon Gilstrom at 360/753-6040.