Last week, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced (PDF) a 12-month finding to list the Franciscan manzanita (Arctostaphylos franciscana) — a plant previously thought to be extinct in the wild — as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The plant, native to the San Francisco peninsula, had not been seen in the wild since 1947.  As we previously reported here, in fall 2009, a botanist identified a single specimen in an area adjacent to Doyle Drive in San Francisco.  A conservation plan was quickly designed for the plant, which was then transplanted to the Presidio of San Francisco for protection.

The Service has opened a 60-day comment period seeking data and comments from the public on the proposed listing and whether designation of critical habitat for the Franciscan manzanita is prudent or determinable.  At this time, the Service believes that critical habitat is not determinable due to a lack of knowledge of what physical and biological features are essential to the conservation of the species, or what other areas outside the site that is currently occupied may be essential for the conservation of the species.

The 60-day comment period closes November 7, 2011.  According to the Service, comments may be submitted by accessing the following website: http://www.regulations.gov.  In the Keywords box, enter Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2010–0049 and follow the instructions for submitting comments.