WA spending $5M to protect rare plants for the 3rd time in consecutive months! What’s up with the scamming, or is it skimming, of the state lands by a Federal entity?
It has happened locally (also within Washington State) with claims for 2 other supposed ‘rare and endangered plant’ species previously detailed in Southeastern Washington State’s Own (Delta Smelt) Government Land Grab Attempt and Is Another Government Agency Lying to The American People? These 2 species are the Umtanum Desert Buckwheat and the White Bluffs Bladderpod.
Quite suddenly and simultaneously 3 ‘rare plant’ species are dwindling and discovered in the same state… puh-leeze!
Let’s just examine the latest announced monthly ‘rare plant casualty‘ Astragalus sinuatus (Whited’s milkvetch …
Whited’s milkvetch is a critically endangered legume, restricted to Washington State, USA.
according to the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens
This species is listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as a “Species of Concern”, and is Critically Endangered (CR) according to IUCN Red List criteria. An estimated 5,000 individuals of Astragalus sinuatus remained in the wild in 1994, although this number may have decreased since as a result of threats to its habitat. The invasion of non-native species (such as the grass Bromus tectorum), grazing and agricultural development all threaten the dry hillside habitat in which it grows. Herbivorous insects are also a major threat, and although pods have the potential to produce up to 30 seeds, the presence of specialist and generalist seed predators means that in reality each pod often only contains one or two mature seeds.
Periodic fires, on a 30-90 year cycle, probably played a role historically in maintaining the habitat of this species. The more frequent fires typical of recent years may promote weedy species at the expense of A. sinuatus. Suppression of fires and any increase in grazing could lead to invasion by sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and to a further decrease in A. sinuatus.
Seeds from one population are held in the Berry Botanic Garden Seed Bank for Rare and Endangered Plants of the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, USA). Seeds are also held at the Miller Seed Vault at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. The seed pods are so tough that it can take a pair of pliers to crack them open and extract the seed, and given that each pod normally contains only one or two seeds, seed-collecting can be quite a challenge!
Once again the USFWS is involved by information provided in the snippet above… someone seems to have over collected? Was this done purposefully and why? hmm?
According to an assessment of 2010-04-08 via The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Astragalus sinuatus is an endemic species which has an extremely small range (EOO = 25 km²) and for which much of the habitat within its historic range has been converted or significantly degraded by agriculture, grazing and gravel pits. There is still quite a bit of suitable habitat remaining, but the species does not seem to be able to spread in those areas and the causes are not fully understood at present. There are also ongoing threats to the species and the habitat such as fire suppression, non-native species invasions, grazing, and agricultural development. There is also a lack of comprehensive data on populations trends. This is clearly a species of conservation concern and is therefore proposed its listing is upgraded from Endangered to Critically Endangered.
In 1984 the population was estimated to be of 5,000 individuals, but no up to date data is currently available, but the populations might have decrease due to the threats to the species’ habitat. A. sinuatus has been described as globally rare, but locally common in a collection in 2005 in Chelan County (Combs #15), but fieldwork and monitoring programs are necessary to make sure of the status and health of the species.
Where has any serious monitoring records been for the last 29 years if the urgency is so immediate now? What changed from 1984 (5000) to 1994 (5000) until today (lack of comprehensive data)? hmm?
Where on the county map does the record via the USDA (once again another Federal entity) accurately depict the coverage area/lack thereof said Whited’s milkvetch?
Of note we discover
There are currently 682 Astragalus plants listed in the Folia plant database.
and via Wikipedia
Astragalus is a large genus of about 3,000 species.
Does one suppose, that since various researchers have revealed that medicinal properties and/or useful combinations are highly valuable, that this might have caused a cash crop of value to be guarded and/or hawked by the Federal Government?
Remember it is always… “All About The Money”!