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Fifty Shades of Green Plant Conservation in an Animal-Obsessed World Dr. Bruce Stein Director, Climate Change Adaptation National Wildlife Federation June 23, 2014 :

Fifty Shades of Green Plant Conservation in an Animal-Obsessed World Dr. Bruce Stein Director, Climate Change Adaptation National Wildlife Federation June 23, 2014

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wild·life (noun) Merriam Webster : animals living in nature; wild animals; living things and especially mammals, birds, and fishes that are neither human nor domesticated Oxford English Dictionary: the native fauna and flora of a particular region Wildlife ≠ Central Nervous System

“North American Model of Wildlife Conservation”:

“North American Model of Wildlife Conservation” Reigning paradigm for wildlife management Public trust doctrine Wildlife a public resource held in trust by government Clear authorities States have primary management authority Fish and wildlife agencies in every state Feds have responsibility for “trust resources” e.g., migratory birds, endangered species, marine mammals Dedicated funding streams Excise taxes on hunting/fishing equipment Limitations F ocus on huntable /fishable, not non-game species Focus on harvest, not habitat management

What’s Our Plant Conservation “Model”?:

What’s Our Plant Conservation “Model”? Private ownership Plants considered private property Weak and diffuse authorities Plant protection laws/regulations often weak Ambiguous or split authorities (e.g., weeds vs. rare species) No dedicated funding And little other funding Often unwarranted assumptions E.g., protection of habitats or animals will also protect sensitive plants Public “color-blindness” to plants Difficulty distinguishing among shades of green (e.g., native vs. non-native) Physostegia correllii Photo: Alfred Schotz

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Michael Foley/Flickr

Charismatic Mega Flora:

Charismatic Mega Flora

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U.S. Species at Risk 29% of Vascular Plants Overall (4,542 species) 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Birds Mammals Butterflies/ Skippers Reptiles Dragonflies/ Damselflies Tiger Beetles Ferns/Fern Allies Gymnosperms Flowering Plants Freshwater Fishes Amphibians Crayfish Freshwater Mussels Vulnerable (G3) Imperiled (G2) Critically Imperiled (G1) Presumed/Possibly Extinct (GX/GH) 33% Total species assessed: 20,900 Source: Stein et al. 2000 22% 24%

Disparities in Federal Protections for Endangered Plants:

Disparities in Federal Protections for Endangered Plants Plants represent 57% of taxa listed under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) 876 plant species listed Plants receive only 4% of ESA expenditures ESA “take” prohibitions do not apply to plants on private lands Source: Negrón -Ortiz 2014

Plants in State Wildlife Action Plans:

Plants in State Wildlife Action Plans Plants as “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” FWS Guidance: “species must be fauna , and not flora ” 8 plans included plant species anyway Plants in Setting Habitat Priorities Of 32 plans with habitat priorities, only 6 used plant species of concern in setting priorities Plants in Setting Focal Areas for Conservation Of 23 plans with mapped focal areas, only 12 explicitly included plant species in defining areas Conservation Actions Targeting Plant Species Nearly one-third (17 plans) included one or more actions intended to benefit plant species But plant-oriented actions were tiny fraction

Working with the Feds Remember High School Civics! :

Working with the Feds Remember High School Civics! Executive White House Offices OMB, CEQ, OSTP Departments Individual Agencies Congress Authorizing committees Appropriations committees Judiciary

Federal Agencies Natural Resource-Focused:

Federal Agencies Natural Resource-Focused Department of Interior US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Geological Survey US Department of Agriculture US Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, APHIS Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Federal Agencies Less-Traditional :

Federal Agencies Less-Traditional Department of Defense Lots of rare species on installations On and off-installation opportunities Department of Transportation Right-of-way management Mitigation opportunities Environmental Protection Agency Nutrient and stormwater management with “green infrastructure”

Conservation in a Climate-Altered Future:

Conservation in a Climate-Altered Future Future conservation will largely be about climate change adaptation New Exec Order accelerating federal action on adaptation and resilience Shifts in conservation paradigm Future vs. retrospective goals Change vs. persistence Ecosystem processes vs. patterns Ecosystem services and “co-benefits” Example: post-fire restoration Locally sourced plant materials/ecotypes , or Ecotypes representing broader climatic conditions?

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The future ain’t what it used to be. -- Yogi Berra

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