Facing extinction, Lassics lupine flower listed as endangered species in California

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Facing extinction, Lassics lupine flower listed as endangered species in California

The Lassics lupine wildflower found only in two colonies in Humboldt County and Trinity County was approved to be listed as an endangered species this month in California by the state Fish and Game Commission. A now nonexistent group of Lassics lupine wildflowers looks out upon Signal Peak in the Lassic Mountain Range in Humboldt County. Forest encroachment, as seen in the mid-ground, along with other factors such as seed predation and climate change have reduced the population from around 1,000 flowers in 2005 to about 300 flowers known to exist currently. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — Contributed Description: White and pink flowers, short stems, can reach up to 12 inches in diameter. Can produce up to 20 fuzzy legumes per stalk. Range: Lassic Mountain Range in Humboldt and Trinity counties. Found only at 5,000- to 6,000-foot elevations Status: Endangered under California Endangered Species Act (ESA); not listed under federal ESA, but identified as a sensitive plant by Six Rivers National Forest Other facts: Able to survive highly mineralized soils that are toxic to most plants Among the barren slopes of two mountains in Humboldt and Trinity counties are the last remaining colonies of a rare, brightly-colored wildflower that has been teetering on the edge of extinction for years. Following nearly 16 years of studies and research on the rare and remote Lassics lupine flower, the California Fish and Game Commission voted this month to list it as an endangered species. For local botanist and former federal researcher David Imper who has studied the wildflowers since 2002 and petitioned the state to list the flower as endangered, the new status may help put pressure on federal agencies to better manage the habitat in the Lassic Mountain Range where the flower gets it name. “This is just one of the last things we could do and try and hopefully shame them into doing the right thing,” the former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service botanist said Thursday. Following years of drought and the Lassic Fire in 2015, the number of Lassics lupine flowers dropped to below 100 individuals, possibly as few as 60. The main colony on Mt. Lassic survived, but the smaller colony on Red Lassic was believed to have been wiped out entirely by the intense heat as were the trees that provided it vital shade, Imper said. With the flower on the brink of extinction, Imper and the environmental organization, the Center for Biological Diversity, filed petitions to both the state and federal governments in 2016 to list the flower as an endangered species. Close to two years later, the California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously at its April 19 meeting to list the flower as endangered. After being asked by Commissioner Anthony Williams whether the Lassics lupine faced extinction within the next 50 years as research by Humboldt State University students had previously indicated, Department of Fish and Wildlife senior environmental scientist Jeb McKay Bjerk replied that the recent drought and […]