Golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) has been the focus of much restoration effort in the Puget Sound region for over a decade. The species is listed as Threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act..
With substantial funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, land managers with a large number of partners, including land trusts, state and federal agencies, as well as other organizations, have made enormous strides in recovering this species.
By the late 1990’s, it had been reduced to only about a dozen sites, many with precariously small populations. However, thousands of plugs have been grown and out-planted since 2002.
More recently, large quantities of seed have been produced by the Center for Land Management and others. As a result, many wild populations have been substantially augmented, and new populations have been started at nearly thirty other sites.
Joe Arnett of the Washington Natural Heritage Program has just compiled data from numerous partners who monitor the status of golden paintbrush at all wild and restored sites. His summary, now available on the Cascadia Prairie Oak Partnership website, reports that the total global population is now estimated at 186,411 flowering individuals.
The twelve extant wild populations include only about 7 percent of this total. Thus, the vast majority of plants now occur where they have been established in new sites in Washington and Oregon.
Currently, 14 locations have over 1,000 flowering plants, the threshold that meets federal recovery criteria. As recently as 2011, only 4 sites exceeded 1,000 plants, demonstrating the rapid progress of recovery efforts.
More details on numbers of plants found at all sites can be found in Joe’s summary, located in the Cascadia Prairie Oak Partnership Technical Library.
Note from Botanical Rambles editor Sarah Gage: This piece is reposted with permission from the Cascadia Prairie Oak Partnership blog, courtesy of Elspeth Hilton Kim. Thanks also to Reba Van Andel (@rebaperson) for forwarding this piece to the WNPS listserv.