miércoles, junio 8

Terra Peninsular and Scientists Team Help Protect Endangered Baja Plants



Terra teams up with Scientists in Baja to protect endangered plants.




After many delays, the Mexican “Norma” of protected plants and animals is out and thanks to Terra Peninsular, six highly valuable plant species were included in the protected list. Although the Mexican law does not provide the same provisions as the US or California Endangered Species Act, the list of species is very important when assessing a region’s biodiversity or declaring a protected area.

The species that are newly listed are:

1-Acanthomintha ilicifolia (Endangered)
The plant lives in a unique soil type called a “vertisol”, or also known as “adobe soil”, which is a claylike type of soil that expands and contracts when it gets wet and dries out, so that in effect it is “self tilling”. Impossible for most plants to survive the soil’s motion, this mint is able to thrive, and so it avoids competition with other species. Acanthomintha ilicifolia can be found in the hills west of San Vicente, on the Colonet peninsula, and in the hills east of San Quintín.

2-Arctostaphylos incognita (Threatened)
This Manzanita was recently discovered in 1997 in the hills between Ensenada and Tecate. There are only a few populations of this species known, mostly near San José de la Zorra. This area is the headwaters for the wine country of Valle de Guadalupe and provides the surface water for agriculture.

3- Cordylanthus maritimus ssp. Maritimus (Threatened)
Saltmarsh Bird’s Beak is found only in tidal marshes in areas that get a large flow of fresh water in the spring. Most of the populations in the US have been extirpated. In Baja the plant is found only at Punta Banda, Bahía San Quintín, and in the area planned to be developed for a port at Colonet.

4- Fremontodendron mexicanum (Endangered)
Mexican flannelbush is a large shrub found only from the border to Colonet. The Mexican populations were thought to have all gone extinct, until Terra board member Bart O'Brien discovered two populations just north of Punta Colonet. However, these Mexican populations are declining rapidly, and as far as we know, only two plants still exist in the wild, and their survival is uncertain.

5- Hazardia orcuttii (Endangered)
Orcutt's bristleweed is member of the sunflower family that is a very rare near-endemic of northwest Baja California. Only one population is known from the US, and that population was nearly destroyed by a housing development. Julie Miller was able to find only six populations extant in Baja. All of these populations are threatened—2 are in the city limits of Tijuana, one is on Punta Banda, and one is on the Colonet peninsula. Sula Vanderplank, a UC Riverside botanist found a seventh population near the mouth of the Santo Tomás river.

6- Orcuttia californica (Endangered)
Being that the California orcutt grass is adapted to living deep in vernal pools, and 95% to 97% of this habitat type has already been destroyed in San Diego, this plant is very rare. In Baja it used to occur in Tijuana (near the airport) and at San Quintín, but has been extirpated in both locations. The only remaining known population exists in the Colonet peninsula, where the major new city Valle de las Palmas is being built.

We hope that these new listings will help us protect more threatened landscape in Baja. Terra Peninsular wants to thank the team of dedicated scientists and friends that helped make these listings possible:

* Dr. Alan Harper, Terra Peninsular board member
* Lourdes Mexicano, now at the University of Arizona
* Dr. Hugo Riemann, Colegio de la Frontera Norte
* Dr. José Delgadillo Rodríguez, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California
* Julie Miller, California State University, San Marcos
* Fred Roberts, California Native Plant Society
* Bart O'Brien, Rancho Santa Botanic Garden and Terra board member
* Tom Oberbauer, California Native Plant Society and County of San Diego
* Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra, University of California, Riverside
* Juan Bezaury, The Nature Conservancy

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