The article from Greenwire, below, and this excerpt from the USFWS’s new proposed rule, beg the question: Couldn’t, shouldn’t the agency have obtained better data before listing the Santa Cruz cypress tree as endangered?
“After more accurate
mapping (McGraw 2007, entire), we
now estimate that areal extent totals
approximately 188 ac (76 ha) (Service
2013, p. 43). Additionally, estimated
abundance of individuals in all
populations has changed over time,
from approximately 2,300 individuals at
the time of listing in 1987, to a current
range of 33,000 to 44,000 individuals
(although the latter estimate is variable
due to mortality and regeneration
following the 2008 Martin Fire that
burned 520 ac (210 ha) of land and a
portion of the Bonny Doon population)”
And maybe the cypress stands need some thinning?
Agency proposes reducing protections for Calif. cypress tree
Published: Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Found only in a small part of the Santa Cruz Mountains in California, the cypress is no longer at imminent risk of extinction from development, logging or agricultural conversion, the agency said in its proposed rule published today in the Federal Register.
The trees grow on lands managed for conservation by the state and by a private landowner. However, the species faces a number of other threats, so still requires the protection of the Endangered Species Act, the agency said.
“[T]hreats associated with alteration of fire regime and lack of habitat management continue to impede the species’ ability to recover,” the agency wrote in the proposed rule.
The Santa Cruz cypress tree was listed in 1987, when officials estimated 2,300 individuals remained. As information has improved, the agency said that was likely an underestimate. Between 33,000 and 44,000 cypress trees are now estimated to grow across about 188 acres.
The Pacific Legal Foundation petitioned in 2011 to downlist the tree, along with a handful of other species, and sued FWS in April for missing the deadline to issue a proposed rule. The group argues that endangered species listings affect property owners’ rights and can require landowners to undertake costly consultations to receive development permits.
However, the downlisting “does not significantly change the protections afforded this species under the Act,” according to the proposed rule. As before, all federally funded or permitted activities must not jeopardize the cypress’ long-term survival.
Conservationists applauded the proposal.
“The remarkable rebound of this precious little California evergreen is the latest proof that the Endangered Species Act puts species on the path to recovery,” said Angela Crane, endangered species organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity.