The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) recently announced that it will conduct in-depth status reviews for six California species currently listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service published (PDF) a 90-day finding in the Federal Register on January 19, 2011, concluding that a petition filed by Pacific Legal Foundation presented substantial scientific information indicating that delisting or reclassifying the species was warranted.

Pacific Legal Foundation petitioned the Service to delist the Eureka Valley evening primrose (Oenothera californica (avita) subsp. eurekensis) and Eureka Valley dunegrass (Swallenia alexandrae). The petition also requested that the Service reclassify the tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi), San Clemente Island broom (Lotus dendroideus var. traskiae), San Clemente Island bush mallow (Malacothamnus clementinus), and San Clemente Island Indian paintbrush (Castilleja grisea) from endangered to threatened. The petition was based on the analysis and recommendations contained in the Service’s most recent 5-year reviews of the species, which were completed in 2007.

Under the ESA, when a private individual or organization petitions the Service to list, delist, or change the status of a species, that triggers a 90-day period within which the Service must decide whether the action is supported by substantial information. Upon finding that a petition presents substantial information, within 12 months of receiving the petition, the Service conducts an in-depth review of the status of each species. The 12-month finding will determine whether delisting or reclassifying any of the six species is warranted.

The ESA also requires that the Service conduct status reviews of listed species at least once every 5 years. The Service has elected to conduct these 5-year reviews simultaneously with the 12-month status review triggered by its finding of substantial information in support of the proposed actions.

The Service’s notice announcing the reviews opened a 60-day comment period. Comments will be accepted until March 19, 2011. To ensure that review of the 6 species utilizes the best scientific and commercial data available, the Service is soliciting information about the status of the species.