Tuesday, August 17, 2010

You Can Never Have Enough Manzanitas... or Community Scientists Around!

Congratulations to Daniel Gluesenkamp, Director of habitat protection and restoration for Stinson Beach-based Audubon Canyon Ranch, Cofounder of the Bay Area Early Detection Network and member and regular contributor to the NBII Invasive Species Working Group for finding a rare native Franciscan manzanita (Arctostaphylos franciscana) bush while scanning San Francisco Bay area roadsides for introduced and invasive plants!!

A tiny patch of the plant was discovered by the “drive-by botanist”, where it had survived for decades undamaged. Daniel Gluesenkamp noticed this “once hidden plant” where crews were removing trees and shrubs. "There's a few of us watching the roadsides," he says, "and when there's a big change, it's interesting." This plant has now become the focus of a broad effort to reestablish its species in its native ecosystem.

The plant’s days would have been numbered had organizations such as Wild Equity Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the California Native Plant Society (*see a list of Native Plant Societies on NBII’s Botany Web site) not petitioned for the plant’s protection under the Endangered Species Act. With confirmation of the plant’s identity, a 25,000-pound chunk of soil holding the manzanita was unearthed and moved to a similar habitat.

(Photo:Workers use a crane to move the only Franciscan manzanita known in the wild. Biologist Dan Gluesenkamp discovered it as he passed by on Doyle Drive in the Presidio. Photo by Michael Chasse/National Park Service.  Photo used with permission.)

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