Utah Native Plant Society

The posts contained herein may not always necessarily represent the official positions and views of the Utah Native Plant Society and are mine alone; nonetheless, this blog is intended to largely supplement the Utah Native Plant Society web site and has similar goals and objectives and when I think my slant about something is perhaps either controversial or straying from what might be generally supported by UNPS, I will try to so indicate since I am also the webmaster for the UNPS web site, a former UNPS board member, conservation co-chair, Utah rare plants guide coordinator, and remain actively involved with day-to-day issues involving the organization. Much of the information contained here will therefore no doubt therefore relate to issues of current concern to the UNPS board and/or its members, inquires made to unps@unps.org, postings made on the UNPS listserv, and the activities our various committees are involved with (conservation, restoration, rare plant issues, invasive species, horticulture and more) and our many and various botanical connections not the least of which are the herbariums based in Utah and elsewhere, and other conservation organizations that have goals that overlap those of UNPS.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Endangered Species Day 2016

(Note: this has similar, although not identical, content distributed on the UNPS listserv today)

It's here: Endangered Species Day 2016.

Occurring within Utah are 25 plant species that currently are listed under the Endangered Species Act (12 of those are designated as "endangered" meaning in danger of extinction, and 13 as "threatened" i.e. on verge of becoming endangered as defined in the ESA). The first species from Utah was federally listed in 1978 (Phacelia argillacea); the last in 2013 (prior to that, no species had been listed since 2001, a drought of some 12 years). No plant species from Utah have been designated absent legal action since prior to the year 2000.

In addition we have three candidate species, species found to be eligible for listing and formally designated as candidate species, but awaiting action. Candidate designation is very worthwhile but offers no protection.

There are many species worthy of designation that are imperiled; there should be many more designated than there are (we have well over 400 endemic vascular plant species that only occur in Utah, and over 10% of our 3,200 taxa of vascular plants alone are considered rare and many of those have a wide variety of imminent threats) but at the same time, we are grateful for the existence of the Endangered Species Act and look forward to the day when it is again revered, and its rules and regulatory intent are again implemented in the spirit that was intended by Congress.

We are also grateful for the work of the The Nature Conservancy in Utah who has to date worked to establish preserves in Utah that are currently helping to protect at least five federally listed plant species plus one (and possibly soon, two) species that should be listed.

TNC Utah Link:


We are also grateful for our many conservation and other partners, some of whom are mentioned here (see the "Private organization" section):


We are also grateful for our rare plant committee and their exhaustive efforts to rate/rank/seek evaluations for Utah rare plants and publish their findings, and who have spent incredible amounts of time in so doing, mostly notably, Drs. Jason Alexander and Walter Fertig.  We are incredibly fortunate to have them on our board and having taken numerous active roles within UNPS, just we are indebted to the prior similar work of most notably Dr. Duane Atwood, and also many others.  It is through their efforts and all of the taxonomists/botanists that are their contemporaries as well as the vast number that are no longer with us that have painstakingly identified species and unique varieties that occur in the state/region that provides us with focus and direction for future conservation actions.  To all of them, every resident of the state is permanently indebted.

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