On March 16, 2018, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) announced the withdrawal of its 2016 proposed rule to list San Fernando Valley spineflower (Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina), a southern California plant species, as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The spineflower’s conservation has been one component of the long-standing conflict over the development of Newhall Ranch in northern Los Angeles County, since its discovery on the property in 2000.

According to FWS, the spineflower no longer meets the statutory definition of a threatened or endangered species due to the adoption of new conservation measures in a candidate conservation agreement (CCA) with Newhall Land and Farming (Newhall Land) in 2017. A CCA is a formal agreement between FWS and one or more parties to address the conservation needs of species that are proposed or candidates for listing under the ESA, or species likely to become candidates, before they are listed as endangered or threatened.

According to FWS, “The 2017 CCA outlines several new conservation actions that will be enacted to address the current and future threats that we identified in our September 15, 2016, proposed rule [ ].” Specifically, the CCA requires Newhall Land to:

  • Establish new spineflower occurrences within the plant’s historical range
  • Conserve, manage, and monitor an additional 1500 acres of Newhall land as spineflower habitat
  • Conserve and manage an approximately 7-acre portion of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Petersen Ranch Mitigation Bank

Using its Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts to evaluate the likely effectiveness of the 2017 CCA, FWS concluded that “there is sufficient certainty that the conservation efforts outlined in the CCA will be implemented and effective, and significantly reduce the identified threats and their impacts to [spineflower] and its habitat[]”, thus warranting withdrawal of the proposal to list the species