A Hidden Lake Bluecurl grows to about 4 inches tall, with short stem segments between elliptic leaves, and blue flowers with a five-lobed corolla. Its fruit consists of four smooth, basally-joined nutlets.
Photo courtesy the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Removed from endangered and threatened status

The Hidden Lake Bluecurls will officially be removed from the federal list of Endangered and Threatened Species on July 2.

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the threats to the plant’s continued existence no longer exist or have been mitigated.

The Bluecurl, whose whose official name is Trichostema austromontanum subsp. compactum, is native to Hidden Lake in the San Jacinto Mountains and its habitat is about 2 acres in total, adjacent to the lake.

It was originally listed as threatened in September 1998. Hikers and equestrians visiting the lake area or passing it were trampling the flowers.

Since then, the California Department of Parks and Recreation has taken action to limit hikers and visitors to the plants’ habitat near Hidden Lake. This includes changing the route of the trail near the lake.

FWS has reviewed the Bluecurls’ status several times since its listing and decided that the current population is stable, subject to weather and uncontrollable disasters such as wildfires.

In January 2017, FWS issued a notice of its intent to remove the Bluecurls from the ETS list and solicited comments about this proposal. FWS also drafted and included a post-delisting management plan for review with this notice.

After reviewing the comments, FWS made minor changes and is still confident that the Hidden Lake Bluecurls will continue to survive in their current habitat, and known and controllable threats have been addressed. But the plants’ condition will be monitored even after its removal from the list.

The Federal Register notice stated, “In conclusion, we find that the currently existing regulatory mechanisms described above are adequate, and they will remain adequate to protect T. a. ssp. compactum and its habitat across its range now and in the future.”

JP Crumrine can be reached at jp@towncrier.com.

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