Due to the Vandenberg monkeyflower’s recent designation as an endangered species, extra precautions are being recommended in the plant’s native habitats.
The monkeyflower, which is native to the Lompoc Valley, is found only within sandy openings of the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this past week that it will be adding the flower to the endangered species list under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
What that means for people who live or play in or near the Burton Mesa reserve is that more restrictions could be in store.
“’Endangered’ status for a species means that there is still time to save a species from extinction,” said Ashley Spratt, a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The primary purpose of the Endangered Species Act is the conservation of endangered and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. Our mission is species recovery.”
The primary threat to the Vandenberg monkeyflower and its habitat is the continued presence and expansion of invasive plants, residential and commercial development, utility and pipeline maintenance activities, and recreational activities.
By listing the species under the ESA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is encouraging public awareness and conservation by federal, state, tribal and local agencies, private organizations and individuals.
While the federal department does not actively monitor or regulate the species’ habitat, it does work with agencies that do, according to Spratt. Public use of the Vandenberg monkeyflower’s habitat is managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, in the case of the Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve, and the California State Parks department, in the case of La Purisima Mission State Historic Park.
“We encourage landowners and managers to undertake the needs of the species during their planning processes,” Spratt said. “Landowners may incorporate monitoring of the species into their land management plans. Our role would be to provide technical guidance to support those activities.”
The Vandenberg monkeyflower, known for its unique petal formation and markings, grows amid maritime chaparral and coastal scrub mixed with patches of native grasslands and oak woodlands and is almost exclusively found on thin layers of wind-blown sand. The small annual herb grows up to 10 inches tall, and produces one to several yellow flowers on purple-tinted stems.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision appears in the Aug. 26 Federal Register and is set to become effective Sept. 24. Anyone interested may view materials concerning the ruling at www.regulations.gov, using the docket numbers FWS-R8-ES-2013-0078.