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Ozark chinquapin. Photo by CAFNR CC BY-NC 2.0.

Ozark chinquapin may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act

The Ozark chinquapin may warrant federal protection as a threatened or endangered species, so the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will initiate an in-depth, range-wide, scientific review of the species’ current status, known as a 12-month finding.

On January 6, 2004, Mr. Joe Glenn, a private citizen, petitioned the Service to list the Ozark chinquapin. Today’s decision, known as a 90-day finding, is based on scientific information about the Ozark chinquapin provided in the petition and information in Service files.

The initial petition finding does not mean that the Service has decided it is appropriate to give the Ozark chinquapin federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. Rather, this finding is the first step in a process that triggers a more thorough review of all biological information available. With this positive 90-day finding, the Service will review all the science and research related to this species status and determine whether protection for it is warranted. If the answer is yes and such action is not precluded by higher priorities, the agency could move to list it and designate critical habitat. If the 12-month finding indicates no additional protection is needed, no further action is taken by the Service.

The Ozark chinquapin is a medium-sized beech tree which once grew to 65 feet, but now rarely reaches heights of more than 30 feet. It is widespread on public and private lands within the Interior Highlands in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. The species develops from stump sprouts as well as seeds, but in recent years, new growth is generally from sprouts due to the chestnut blight disease. National Forests in Arkansas and Oklahoma provide extensive areas of suitable habitat represented by 454 location records. Individual location records commonly report multiple sprout clumps, and these vary from tens to thousands of individual sprout clumps per site record.

To ensure the scientific review is comprehensive, the Service is soliciting information from state and federal natural resource agencies and all interested parties regarding this tree. Specifically, the Service is seeking scientific information regarding the tree’s historic and current status and distribution; its population sizes and trends; its biology and ecology; its genetics; ongoing conservation measures for the species and its habitat; and threats to the long-term survival of the species.

Comments on the 90-day finding must be received by August 2, 2010, and can be submitted by one of the following methods:

U.S. Mail or hand-delivered to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R4-ES-2010-0026 Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.


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