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Rare plant, Franciscan Manzanita, subject of federal lawsuit in San Francisco

June 15, 2011 |  3:29 pm

Franciscan manzanita Federal officials failed to protect a native San Francisco plant that was rediscovered near the Golden Gate Bridge after experts believed it had been extinct for decades, an environmental group claims in a lawsuit.

The Wild Equity Institute said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco that the Department of the Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service have yet to list the Franciscan Manzanita under the Endangered Species Act after it was rediscovered two years ago.

Without this protection, the plant will not be able to survive, the San Francisco-based group claims.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to use our most powerful recovery tool, the Endangered Species Act, to protect and restore the Franciscan Manzanita,” Brent Plater, executive director of the institute, said in a statement.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Sarah Swenty said she could not comment on pending litigation but said federal officials were reviewing the plant’s candidacy for protection.

After it was found in the Presidio in 2009, the plant was moved to a more secure site within the park so biologists could begin the recovery process.

Prior to the plant’s rediscovery, it was last seen in the wild in 1947, when it was removed from a San Francisco construction site.

It was once found at the former Laurel Hill Cemetery, the former Masonic Cemetery and Mount Davidson, all in San Francisco, according to the Wild Equity Institute.

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-- Kate Mather

Photo: Franciscan Manzanita. Credit: Wild Equity Institute

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