Two Rare Southern California Plants Get New Chance to Grow
Settling a suit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Bush administration agreed Wednesday to revisit two 2005 decisions that would work against the recovery of two federally protected Southern California plants. The spreading navarretia, a tiny, white-flowered plant that dwells in rare seasonal ponds, was granted just 652 acres of protected habitat -- even though it's found in a total of 18,747 acres -- while the thread-leaved brodiaea, a clay-loving lily, was left no better off with just 597 out of 4,093 acres of habitat protected. These scanty habitat designations were scientifically indefensible and just happened to take place smack in the middle of a period fraught with politically tainted endangered-species decisions made by Bush administration appointees. The Center filed a notice of intent to sue over 55 of those decisions and has moved forward with more than one lawsuit -- and the spreading navarretia and thread-leaved brodiaea are among the species likely to benefit.
Thanks to this week's settlement, the administration must go back to the drawing board and make new decisions regarding protected habitat for both plants. Final designations are due by 2010, with proposals to be made next year.
Settling a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Bush administration last week agreed to redo a politically tainted decision that reduced the protected "critical habitat" area for southern California's endangered arroyo toad from 182,360 acres to just 11,695.
Though federal investigations revealed that this and many other decisions to strip protection from endangered species were forced upon agency scientists by high-ranking administration officials, the Center was forced to sue to have the decision rescinded. The settlement requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish a new protected area by October 2010.