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A San Francisco Survivor's Remarkable Story

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Courtesy of the Wild Equity Institute

The Franciscan Manzanita

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday that it?s considering a San Francisco plant once thought to be extinct in the wild for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

The plant is the only known specimen in the wild of Arctostaphylos franciscana, or Franciscan manzanita. Because biologists thought the plant had been extinct since 1947, it was never listed for protection under the act.

Last year, Dr. Daniel Gluesenkamp, director of habitat restoration for the Audubon Canyon Ranch, spotted the 8-inch-tall and 20-foot-wide plant in the Presidio along the Doyle Drive expansion route.

Last January the plant was transplanted in the middle of the night to a secret location in the Presidio. Biologists also took cuttings and planted seeds to test, and help save, the unique plant.

The Wild Equity Institute, the California Native Plant Society and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition to list the species as endangered.

"This is a great first step toward protecting the species as a whole using the nation and the world's greatest conservation law and now we have the best minds in the business and the best laws on the planet working for the conservation of the species," said Brent Plater, director of the Wild Equity Institute. "We're going to see more manzanitas in the wild very soon."

The surviving plant could go as far back as Spanish or pre-Spanish times or it could have sprouted when construction at Doyle Drive stimulated a seed, Gluesenkamp said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to issue a decision in nine months on whether to list the species as endangered.

Read more about the discovery of the plant at the Fish and Wildlife Services and at the Wild Equity Institute websites.

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