For Immediate Release
More Than 5,000 Acres Protected for Rare Wildflower in Santa Barbara County
LOMPOC, Calif. - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today protected 5,755 acres as critical habitat for the Vandenberg monkeyflower, a small, yellow wildflower found only in western Santa Barbara County, Calif. The designation will help ensure the survival of this flower, which was protected under the Endangered Species Act in 2014 under the terms of a settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Vandenberg monkeyflower (Diplacus vandenbergensis) is known to exist in just nine locations, typically in open spaces on sandy soils between shrubs. Most of the designated critical habitat is on public land.
“Protecting the few remaining places where this rare and beautiful monkeyflower lives will give it a real shot at survival and recovery,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist with the Center. “Protecting its habitat is the best way to prevent its extinction.”
The monkeyflower grows in sandy areas at low elevations near the coast in a region of western Santa Barbara County known as Burton Mesa, which lies between the Purisima Hills and the Santa Ynez River. The biggest threat to the monkeyflower is competition from invasive plants. It is also threatened by military activities, residential and commercial development, fire and climate change.
The critical habitat is made up of remaining native maritime chaparral vegetation, much of which has already been lost to development, and is located on or near Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve, La Purisima Mission State Historic Park and Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The Service placed the monkeyflower on the candidate waiting list for federal protection in 2010. In 2011 the Center and the Service reached a landmark agreement to ensure all the species that were on the federal waiting list for protection as of 2010 get protection decisions by 2018. So far under that agreement, 143 imperiled animals and plants have gained Endangered Species Act protection, including the monkeyflower in August 2014, and another 10 have been proposed for protection.
“Protecting the Vandenberg monkeyflower and its habitat helps not only the wildflower but all of the plants and animals that call this special place home,” said Anderson.
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.