NANFA-- "collectors" (was- Endangered Species action (FW, longish))

Jay DeLong (
Wed, 29 Aug 2001 09:07:38 -0700

> > (Washington), showy stickseed (Washington), Big Cypress fox squirrel
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> What is a "showy stickseed"? Plant or animal?

From: What makes this article
doubly interesting (and more pertinent to this list) is the reference to
"collectors" within:


Showy stickseed, a beautiful plant that grows in only one location on earth
in Chelan County, Washington, is sliding toward extinction, its numbers
declining from 1,000 individuals in 1981 to 140 in a recent survey.

As a result, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to designate
the plant as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. A species is
designated as endangered if it is at risk of becoming extinct in the near

"This beautiful flower is the rarest plant in the state of Washington,
growing at one site in Tumwater Canyon on the Wenatchee National Forest,"
said Anne Badgley, the Service's regional director for the Pacific region.
"Designating it as endangered will allow us to protect and recover this
species for future generations to enjoy."

Showy stickseed is a perennial herb about 8 to 16 inches tall. It has large
white five-lobed flowers, making it an eye-catching attraction for anyone
fortunate enough to see it.

Historically biologists have identified the plant at only two locations, one
in Tumwater Canyon and the other in a small area near Merritt in Chelan
County. It was last seen at the Merritt site in 1948 and is considered lost
from that location. The remaining plants grow in an area of less than two
acres on a steep unstable slope within 330 feet of the state highway.

Threats to showy stickseed come from a variety of sources. It is a plant
that does not tolerate shade and does not compete well with other plants.
Fire suppression has allowed trees and shrubs to grow on the site resulting
in increased shading, crowding, and competition. Several non-native noxious
weeds also have invaded the site, further increasing competition and

Though fire suppression may have hurt this plant, any wildfire now might be
a serious threat to the few remaining plants. A major fire burned near the
site in 1994. The plants are also at risk of being trampled by unsuspecting
tourists who have no idea how rare the species is. As people become aware of
its rarity, showy stickseed may become a target for plant collectors. This
would not only result in loss of many plants but also in further trampling
of the site. The slope the species lives on is highly unstable and a
landslide here could bury the entire population

The Washington Department of Transportation is careful during right-of-way
maintenance at the site and has agreed not to use herbicide in the area.

Some conservation work is already underway to protect the plant. The area
where the species is found was designated as the Tumwater Botanical Area by
the U.S. Forest Service in 1938. The Service, in cooperation with the
Wenatchee National Forest and the Washington Department of Transportation,
is discussing conservation strategies for the species. A project to improve
habitat for the plant will begin during the winter of 2000.

It is illegal to collect or remove listed plants from Federal lands.
However, the Endangered Species Act does not prohibit "take" of listed
plants on private lands, although landowners must comply with state laws
protecting imperiled plants. Showy stickseed is designated as an endangered
species by the Washington Department of Natural Resources' Natural Heritage
Program, but Washington does not have an Endangered Species Act so no legal
protection is provided by state law. Consultations with the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service are necessary for private and other landowners only when
Federal funds or permits are required for activities that may affect listed

Native plants are important for their ecological, economic, and aesthetic
values. Plants play an important role in development of crops that resist
disease, insects, and drought. At least 25 percent of prescription drugs
contain ingredients derived from plant compounds, including medicine used to
treat cancer, heart disease, juvenile leukemia, and malaria, as well as that
used to assist organ transplants. Plants are also used to develop natural

Jay DeLong
Olympia, WA
"If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do
not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts?
To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent
~ Aldo Leopold (1953)

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