Petition to Protect San Francisco’s Miracle Manzanita” Prompts Feds to Begin Protection Process “

August 9, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: BRENT PLATER, WILD EQUITY INSTITUTE, 415-572-6989

Petition to Protect San Francisco’s “Miracle Manzanita”
Prompts Feds to Begin Protection Process

SAN FRANCISCO— The Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it has started the formal legal process to protect the Franciscan manzanita under the federal Endangered Species Act, widely considered to be our most powerful and effective tool for protecting the imperiled plants and animals that accompany us on Earth.

“This is a great opportunity for the Bay Area to close one of our coldest conservation cases,” said Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute. “With the best tools on the planet and some of the most innovative people in the country, I’m confident we’ll keep the Franciscan manzanita around for future generations to enjoy.”


The Franciscan Manzanita

The announcement was prompted by the Wild Equity Institute’s formal administrative petition to protect the species shortly after it was rediscovered in the wild by Dr. Daniel Gluesenkamp inside the Presidio Trust in San Francisco, nearly 70 years after it was deemed extinct in the wild.

Because extinct species are not protected by the Endangered Species Act, the Franciscan manzanita had no formal protection when it was found. The Endangered Species Act protection petition was submitted on an emergency basis to close this loophole and give biologists the tools they need to bring the species back from extinction. The Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society co-petitioned for the protections.

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s finding means that a 60-day public comment period will commence so individuals can provide thoughts, testimony, and evidence supporting the Endangered Species Act finding. Comments can be submitted at http://www.regulations.gov. In the box that reads “Enter Keyword or ID”, commenters must enter the docket number for the Franciscan manzanita finding [FWS-R8-ES-2010-0049], check the box that reads “Open for Comment/Submission”, and then click the Search button. An icon that reads “Submit a Comment” will be returned: click it and enter your comments on the site.

The rediscovery of the Franciscan manzanita prompted a cost-effective and collaborative rescue and relocation effort for the last surviving wild plant. The Endangered Species Act protection will ensure that biologists can now work on the restoration and recovery of the entire species. “The Endangered Species Act is the world’s most effective and comprehensive conservation law. With its flexible and powerful toolkit we can ensure that the Franciscan manzanita recovers once and for all,” said Plater.

The Franciscan manzanita is a subtly charming flowering shrub found nowhere else on Earth. Its tragic history is filled with heroic acts by botanists striving to keep the species alive. In 1906, the specimens first used to identify the species were rescued from the California Academy of Sciences as fires driven by the San Francisco earthquake ravaged the Academy’s collections. In 1947 a famous botanist stood in front of earth-moving equipment to wrest the last known wild plants from a construction site. The plants were sent to a botanical garden, and no one found the plant in the wild again until Dr. Gluesenkamp’s sighting in the Fall of 2009.


San Francisco Manzanita at the Former Laurel Hill Cemetery, 1937

For photos, interviews with manzanita scientists, or more information, call 415-572-6989.
Click here to view the petition.
Click here to read an advance copy of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s finding.
Click here to read the finding as published in the Federal Register.

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