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Draft recovery plans.

Sentry Milk-vetch The Sentry milk-vetch (Astragalus cremnophylax var. cremnophylax) is an endangered plant in the pea family (Fabaceae). Its Latin name, which translates as "watchman of the gorge," alludes to its perch on the high limestone ledges of the Grand Canyon, where it is known from up to three locations on the South Rim and possibly one on the North Rim. It was listed as endangered in 1990 due to threats from habitat destruction and modification, extreme rarity, and low reproduction. The Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service staff at Grand Canyon National Park, and researchers have worked cooperatively to manage, monitor, and study these populations, including installation of fencing and signs around the largest population.

An opportunity for the public to review and comment on the draft recovery plan for Sentry milk-vetch was provided from September 14 to October 14, 2004, and again from January 10 to February 9, 2005. The final recovery plan, which will incorporate public and peer review comments, is expected in the fall of 2005.

Pecos Sunflower The Pecos sunflower (Helianthus paradoxus) is an annual that grows on wet, alkaline soils at spring seeps, wet meadows, and pond margins in New Mexico and Texas. Its occurrence in desert wetland habitat is unique, and it is associated with habitats that are limited and at risk for further decline. The Pecos sunflower was federally listed as threatened in 1999, and is also listed as threatened by the state of Texas and as endangered by the state of New Mexico.

The Pecos sunflower currently occurs in several widely spaced populations in west-central and eastern New Mexico and west Texas. The primary threat to this species is loss and/or alteration of wetland habitat due to surface water diversion and wetland filling for agriculture and recreational uses, and groundwater pumping and aquifer depletion for municipal uses. In addition, the species is potentially vulnerable to competition by nonnative invasive vegetation such as tamarisk, habitat altering activities such as overgrazing or mowing, and the long-term drought in the Southwest.

A draft recovery plan for the Pecos sunflower was available for public review and comment from July 2 to August 2, 2004, and again from September 14 to October 14, 2004. Recovery actions include identifying and securing core habitat, continuing research, and working with landowners to develop conservation partnerships and ensure compliance with existing regulations. Some core conservation areas have already been identified and secured. A relatively large population was discovered on state lands in New Mexico in 2004. A Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund grant was awarded to the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department in 2004 to secure Pecos sunflower habitat in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. A final recovery plan is expected in the fall of 2005.

Barton Springs Salamander The Barton Springs salamander (Euycea sosorum) has one of the smallest geographic ranges of any vertebrate species in North America. It is known from only four spring outlets that make up Barton Springs, located within Zilker Park in the City of Austin, Texas. Because the Barton Springs salamander depends on constant, clean flowing spring waters for its survival, the primary threats to this endangered species include degradation of water quality and quantity resulting from rapidly expanding urbanization. The Service is working with the City of Austin, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, U.S. Geological Survey, Lower Colorado River Authority, Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, developers, private property owners, and others on conservation measures to conserve the salamander's habitat.

A draft Barton Springs Recovery Plan was available for public review from January 25 to March 28, 2005. Proposed recovery criteria include: 1) establishing mechanisms to protect water quality; 2) developing and implementing a comprehensive plan to avoid and/or completely contain hazardous materials spills; 3) developing and implementing a plan to ensure continuous spring flows at Barton Springs; and 4) establishing captive breeding populations. A final recovery plan is expected in the fall of 2005.

Devils River Minnow The Devils River minnow (Dionda diaboli) is a small fish found in three spring-fed streams in Val Verde and Kinney Counties, Texas, all tributaries to the Rio Grande. The species is believed to be extirpated from the Rio San Carlos in Mexico, and its status in the Rio Salado drainage is unknown. Habitat loss, and degradation of water quality and quantity, and impacts from normative species led to the listing of the species as threatened in 1999.

A draft recovery plan for the species was available for public review from February 23, 2005, to April 11, 2005. Draft recovery criteria include: 1) population monitoring to verify stable or increasing population trends throughout its range; 2) ensuring adequate stream flows through state or local groundwater management plans, or equivalent binding documents; 3) protection of surface water quality by demonstrated compliance with water quality standards and implementation of water quality controls; and 4) successful management and control of nonnative species by local, regional, state, and federal authorities. A final recovery plan is expected in the fall of 2005.

Whooping Crane The whooping crane (Grus americana) is a "flagship" species for the Service's endangered species recovery program. Whooping cranes occur only in North America, currently existing in the wild at three locations east of the Rocky Mountains and at eight sites in captivity. From a low of only 21 birds in 1941, the total estimated number of whooping cranes has risen slowly to more than 400 birds. Historic population declines resulted from habitat destruction, shooting, and displacement by human-related activities. Current threats include the limited genetics of the population, loss and degradation of migration stopover habitat, collisions with power lines, degradation of coastal habitat, and the threat of chemical spills.

A draft revised recovery plan for the whooping crane was released for public review and comment on January 11, 2005. The recovery strategy includes protecting the bird's breeding, wintering, and migration habitat; protecting and facilitating the growth of the current wild population that migrates from Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas coast; establishing two additional self-sustaining populations of whooping cranes in the wild; and maintaining a genetically healthy captive population. In 2004, the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population exceeded 200 birds, a milestone towards the species' recovery. A final revised recovery plan is expected during the fall of 2005.

Reported by Tracy Scheffler, Division of Threatened and Endangered Species, Southwest Regional Office. For more information, call her at (505) 248-6920, or send email to Tracy_Scheffler@fws. gov or
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Title Annotation:Sentry milk-vetch plant
Author:Scheffler, Tracy
Publication:Endangered Species Update
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Previous Article:Butterfly conservation plan.
Next Article:Five-year status reviews.

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