The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service planned to announce Wednesday that a rare plant thought to be extinct, then discovered by the former director of habitat protection at Audubon Canyon Ranch in Bolinas, will be listed as an endangered species.
In October 2009, while driving in the Presidio in San Francisco, Daniel Gluesenkamp discovered a Franciscan manzanita plant not seen in 63 years.
The lone Franciscan manzanita was revealed after crews cleared trees as part of the Doyle Drive reconstruction project, which presented a problem: The rare plant sat directly in the path of the $1.1 billion project. The plant was moved from the site, but kept at an undisclosed location nearby.
Now it is ready to be listed as endangered, a designation that gets it better protection from federal law and allows funding to better protect it. There is also a plan to designate 11 areas in San Francisco where the plant could be re-established.
"The most important part of this is designating the critical habitat," said Gluesenkamp, now executive director of the California Native Plant Society. "We hope to re-establish its population. It's all pretty cool."
The shrub has red bark, dark green leaves, can sprout whitish flowers and grows between 2 and 6 feet tall.
Historically, the shrub had been documented on Mount Davidson and in the Laurel Hill and Masonic cemeteries in San Francisco, where it grew in heavy and rocky soil, including
those populations all vanished by the late 1940s, overcome by human activity.
"We're pleased this rare plant is getting the protection the species so desperately needs to survive and recover," said Jeff Miller, conservation advocate with the San Francico-based Center for Biological Diversity.
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