For Release: December 18, 2007
Contact: Steve Razo (951) 697-5717
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the University of California, Davis, (UC Davis) plans to conduct two new study protocols at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA), while postponing a third due to lack of rainfall.
Vicki Wood, BLM El Centro field manager, said the two new studies focus on principal pollinators of the Peirson’s milk-vetch, a plant listed as threatened by the USFWS under the Endangered Species Act, as well as sampling of seedpods to determine seed quantities for reproduction. The third study, the seed bank persistence sampling study must be postponed for a future year when rainfall conditions are met.
The UC Davis study will be conducted under a cooperative ecosystems studies unit agreement with BLM under the supervision of Dr. Lynn Kimsey of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. That study will be conducted in spring 2008.
The USFWS study will also be conducted in spring 2008 and will involve collection of 600 pods from 80-100 milkvetch. The Fish and Wildlife Service plans to send the pods to Dr. Kimsey’s laboratory at UC Davis where they will be dissected, viable seeds counted, and seed dimensions measured.
Wood said BLM recognizes the importance of the seed bank study, noting it supplements the three-year plant population study done in 2004-2006. “We initiated the seed bank study in spring 2007, and planned to conduct the second seed bank study after the fall rains.” However, as of Dec. 17, she noted only 1.45 inches of rain have been recorded at the Dunes since Oct. 1. Due to scientific protocol requirements, at least 2 inches of rainfall are required for the study to go forward, she explained.
As the 15-day forecast ahead calls for no measurable rainfall in the area, Wood said, “We reluctantly made the decision to postpone the seed bank part of the study until the rainfall conditions meet the minimum levels. Otherwise, we cannot justify the cost benefit or endorse the validity of any data gathered.
”We are, however, looking forward to the data to be gathered by UC Davis and USFWS and believe both will add significantly to our understanding of the Peirson’s milk-vetch’s ecology and how best to manage the Dunes to ensure the plant’s recovery,” Wood said.
For more information, contact the BLM’s El Centro Field Office at (760) 337-4400.