Species At Risk
Point Reyes National Seashore has some of the highest numbers of rare and sensitive species in North America.
Here is a list:
Agelaius tricolor, tricolored blackbird
Antrozous pallidus, pallid bat
Aplodontia rufa phaea, Point Reyes mountain beave
Lasionycteris noctivagans, silver-haired bat
Lasiurus blossevillii, western red bat
Lasiurus cinereus, hoary bat
Taxidea taxus, American badger
Corynorhinus townsendii, Townsend's big-eared bat
Zapus trinotatus orarius, Point Reyes jumping mouse
Ardea alba, great egret
Ardea herodias, great blue heron
Athene cunicularia, burrowing owl
Cypseloides niger, black swift
Circus cyaneus, northern harrier
Pandion haliaetus, osprey
Dendroica petechia brewsteri, yellow warbler
Fratercula cirrhata, tufted puffin
Geothlypis trichas sinuosa, saltmarsh common yellowthroat
Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus, western snowy plover
Emys marmorata, western pond turtle
Rana boylii, foothill yellow-legged frog
Rana draytonii, California red-legged frog
Eucyclogobius newberryi, tidewater goby
Laterallus jamaicensis coturniculus, California black rail
Lavinia symmetricus ssp. 2, Tomales roach
Oncorhynchus kisutch, coho salmon - central California coast Evolutionary Significant Unit
Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus, steelhead - central California coast Distinct Population Segment
Spirinchus thaleichthys, longfin smelt
Plebejus icarioides parapheres, Point Reyes blue butterfly
Caecidotea tomalensis, Tomales isopod
Callophrys mossii marinensis, Marin elf in butterfly
Helminthoglypta nickliniana awania, Peninsula coast range shoulderband
Hydrochara rickseckeri, Ricksecker's water scavenger beetle
Ischnura gemina, San Francisco forktail damselfly
Syncaris pacifica, California freshwater shrimp
Danaus plexippus, monarch butterfly
Vespericola marinensis, Marin hesperian
Coelus globosus, globose dune beetle
Speyeria zerene myrtleae, Myrtle's silverspot butterfly
Cicindela hirticollis gravida, sandy beach tiger beetle
Abronia umbellata var. breviflora, pink sand-verbena
Agrostis blasdalei, Blasdale's bent grass
Alopecurus aequalis var. sonomensis, Sonoma alopecurus
Amorpha californica var. napensis, Napa false indigo
Arctostaphylos virgata, Marin manzanita
Astragalus pycnostachyus var. pycnostachyus, coastal marsh milk-vetch
Blennosperma nanum var. robustum, Point Reyes blennosperma
Calamagrostis crassiglumis, Thurber's reed grass
Calystegia purpurata ssp. saxicola, coastal bluff morning-glory
Campanula californica, swamp harebell
Cardamine angulata, seaside bittercress
Carex leptalea, bristle-stalked sedge
Carex lyngbyei, Lyngbye's sedge
Castilleja affinis var. neglecta, Tiburon paintbrush
Castilleja leschkeana, Point Reyes paintbrush
Ceanothus gloriosus var. porrectus, Mt. Vision ceanothus
Chloropyron maritimum ssp. palustre, Point Reyes salty bird's-beak
Chorizanthe cuspidata var. cuspidata, San Francisco Bay spineflower
Chorizanthe cuspidata var. villosa, woolly-headed spineflower
Chorizanthe robusta var. robusta, robust spineflower
Chorizanthe valida, Sonoma spineflower
Cicuta maculata var. bolanderi, Bolander's water-hemlock
Cirsium andrewsii, Franciscan thistle
Dirca occidentalis, western leatherwood
Erigeron supplex, supple daisy
Erysimum concinnum, bluff wallflower
Fritillaria lanceolata var. tristulis, Marin checker lily
Fritillaria liliacea, fragrant fritillary
Gilia capitata ssp. chamissonis, blue coast gilia
Gilia millefoliata, dark-eyed gilia
Hemizonia congesta ssp. congesta, white seaside tarplant
Hesperevax sparsiflora var. brevifolia, short-leaved evax
Hesperolinon congestum, Marin western flax
Horkelia cuneata var. sericea, Kellogg's horkelia
Horkelia marinensis, Point Reyes horkelia
Lasthenia californica ssp. bakeri, Baker's goldfields
Lasthenia californica ssp. macrantha, perennial goldfields
Layia carnosa, beach layia
Leptosiphon croceus, coast yellow leptosiphon
Leptosiphon rosaceus, rose leptosiphon
Lilaeopsis masonii, Mason's lilaeopsis
Lilium maritimum, coast lily
Limnanthes douglasii ssp. sulphurea, Point Reyes meadowfoam
Lupinus tidestromii, Tidestrom's lupine
Microseris paludosa, marsh microseris
Monardella sinuata ssp. nigrescens, northern curly-leaved monardella
Phacelia insularis var. continentis, North Coast phacelia
Piperia elegans ssp. decurtata, Point Reyes rein orchid
Pleuropogon hooverianus, North Coast semaphore grass
Polygonum marinense, Marin knotweed
Rhynchospora californica, California beaked-rush
Sidalcea calycosa ssp. rhizomata, Point Reyes checkerbloom
Sidalcea hickmanii ssp. viridis, Marin checkerbloom
Sidalcea malviflora ssp. purpurea, purple-stemmed checkerbloom
Streptanthus glandulosus ssp. pulchellus, Mount Tamalpais bristly jewelflower
Trifolium amoenum, showy rancheria clover
Triphysaria floribunda, San Francisco owl's-clover
Triquetrella californica, coastal triquetrella
Ranch management practices in Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area result in poor water quality, excess manure stockpiles, grazing of riparian vegetation, and erosion from beef and dairy cattle that impact the California freshwater shrimp. This minute crustacean inhabits perennially flowing streams with slow moving water and flat gradients. Listed as Federally
Endangered since 1988, the species is endemic to Marin, Sonoma and Napa Counties. It is only found in portions of 16 coastal streams within this range, including Lagunitas Creek in Marin County, which is home to the most viable population of the shrimp and is the only site on protected lands. Existing populations of the species are threatened by introduced fish, and deterioration or loss of habitat from water diversion, impoundments, livestock and dairy activities, agricultural activities and developments, flood control
activities, gravel mining, timber harvesting, migration barriers and water pollution. All creeks and streams with the potential for this species should be closed to livestock grazing, so that disturbances can end and restoration begin.
The Myrtles silverspot butterfly inhabits coastal dunes, coastal prairie, and coastal shrubland, feeding as adults on the nectar of a variety of wildflowers, and requiring western dog violet (Viola adunca) as a host to its caterpillars. We are concerned that livestock grazing suppresses the growth, vitality, and distribution
of native plants, and has therefore for years been impairing the viability of the Myrtles silverspot butterfly populations on Point Reyes National Seashore. The draft Environmental Impact Statement should include field surveys of native flowering plants in pastures grazed by livestock and corresponding control areas where livestock are currently excluded, such that the magnitude of this negative effect on this endangered
butterfly can be fully understood and disclosed. During field visits we found dog violetsonly on ungrazed roadsides that were fenced off from all livestock grazing. What is the most recent status of the Myrtles silverspot and its host plants? Myrtles silverspot butterflies have been found at the Tomales Point tule elk range and throughout the bluffs, hills, grasslands, and back-dunes west of Drakes Estero and Schooner Bay.
Livestock are likely to have significant negative effects on the Myrtles silverspot butterfly, and
grazing activities within the habitat of the Myrtle's silverspot butterfly may result in trampling of eggs, larvae, and adults. Additionally, grazing within the habitat may result in destruction of host or nectar plants via consumption, trampling, soil compaction, erosion, and other deleterious effects.
In April of 2018 the California Fish and Game Commission voted to protect the tricolored blackbird as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act. Tricolored blackbirds have been found on Point Reyes National Seashore, and have nested in the park. Yet the National Park Service has not undertaken, to our knowledge, any formal surveys of birds or nesting colonies recently. Using eBird or other crowdsourced databases should not replace focused park scientific population studies and monitoring.
Tricolored blackbirds once formed massive nesting colonies of millions of birds in California’s marshes. But they have declined dramatically because of the destruction of wetlands and native grasslands, shooting and pesticide use. Mowing and harvesting crops that tricolored blackbirds use for nesting has also devastated populations. Tricolored blackbirds have declined by nearly 90 percent since the 1930s. Comprehensive statewide surveys found only 145,000 in 2014, a historic low level. The 2017 survey appears to show a small population rebound, with 177,656 blackbirds observed. The population increase came only after legal protections were put in place in 2016, but more needs to be done in places like Point Reyes National Seashore. We are particularly concerned that the mowing of silage fields during the nesting season may
result in the take of tricolored blackbirds and their eggs/nestlings (see the video below for more)..
Western snowy plovers are a listed species that inhabit dunefield plant communities on Point Reyes National Seashore. They are vulnerable to negative effects from livestock grazing. Grazing activities within the habitat of the western snowy plover may adversely affect the animal via trampling individuals or crushing eggs. Presence of cattle within nesting areas may result in nest failure due to western snowy plovers being flushed from their nests for extended periods of time. For the most part, Point Reyes National Seashore has minimized the likelihood of such impacts by installing exclusion fencing in suitable habitat areas. But an increase in the number of ravens as result of ranching activities likely could lead to higher levels of predation on western snowy plovers by these corvids. Ravens are known predators or western snowy plover chicks and eggs. Evidence points to the interrelationship between ranching activities and ravens. Specifically, ravens opportunistically feed upon left over grains, afterbirths, carcasses, and organisms killed or injured during silage harvest. The National Park Service should analyze in its Environmental Impact Statement how ravens may be unnaturally high in population levels from prey subsidization through such sources as rodent and bird mortality during silage harvesting (see the video below for more).
The California red-legged frog is associated with pond, creek, and wetland habitats, typically associated with slow-moving water 2 feet deep or deeper. It is a listed species under the Endangered Species Act. The grazing program is located within the proposed North San Francisco Bay/North Coast recovery unit which includes portions of watersheds at Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Within this recovery unit, red-legged frogs are threatened primarily by water management and diversions, nonnative species, livestock, and urbanization. Livestock grazing, water pollution, contaminants, and
other agricultural developments can destroy, degrade, and fragment habitat for red-legged frogs. The
National Park Service should examine a restoration model for red-legged frogs as was done at the
Presidio in San Francisco, where artificially dug ponds were made as habitat, without the need for livestock.
The National Park Service should analyze how native grassland birds are impacted by livestock grazing, silage mowing, and the loss of coastal prairie habitat cover for nesting. Grasshopper sparrows, Western meadowlarks, and other species may be potentially impacted by commercial ranching.
How are native predators such as badgers, bobcats, gray foxes, and coyotes managed in the ranching areas, and affected by livestock operations? Are ranchers allowed to trap, kill, or remove these important native mesopredators in the Pastoral Zone?
How are marine mammals, such as seals, sea lions, fur seals, sea otters, porpoises, and whales affected by lowered water quality coming from ranch and manure management reaching coastal waters?
Rare plants are susceptible to being eaten by cattle, being trampled by cattle, and
to modifications of local hydrology and localized soil compaction induced by cattle and
livestock operations and infrastructure. Excessive feces and urine deposition within or adjacent to areas inhabited by the Sonoma alopecurus, spineflower, beach layia, Tidestrom's lupine, Tiburon paintbrush, and Marin dwarf flax may alter habitat conditions by fertilizing the nutrient poor soils, thereby making colonization by invasive species easier, which could ultimately outcompete the paintbrush and/or dwarf flax. Alteration of the habitat conditions through deposition of nitrogen derivatives may also lead to the extirpation of the paintbrush and dwarf flax from the site due to their adaptation to survive only on serpentine soils.
Sonoma alopecurus is listed as an endangered species, is known from only 16 populations, and grows in riparian stream communities. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, populations of this species are declining due to competition from nonnative plant species, trampling and grazing by cattle, as well as low regeneration. That agency observed that both livestock grazing, and also fenced exclosures (which
sometimes became choked with blackberries) had had detrimental effects on the species. The obvious solution is to remove the livestock, remove the fences, and let tule elk do the grazing, which they had done in a manner compatible with this species since time immemorial, prior to 1850.
Thurber’s reed grass inhabits mesic areas in coastal scrub and freshwater marshes. Known in California from fewer than 10 occurrences according to the California Native Plant Society, it is present in Point Reyes National Seashore but is threatened by grazing. This is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Species of Concern
(formerly a category 2 candidate for listing). How will NPS manage this native grass to prevent it from declining further?
There is no scientific evidence that so-called prescriptive livestock grazing can accomplish this in a superior way to grazing by tule elk, and indeed, grazing by tule elk and blacktail deer is what these native plant communities evolved with in the first place. The park service has undertaken prescribed fire management in the past, and should continue this management to help create a patch mosaic of open plant communities and shrublands and forests.
Above, tricolored blackbird. Right, snowy plover chicks.
Myrtles silverspot butterfly
California freshwater shrimp
California red-legged frog
YouTube video on the myth of sustainability at Point Reyes National Seashore, by Skyler Thomas of Shame of Point Reyes.