SAVING THE PALLID MANZANITA

The pallid manzanita is a fire-adapted shrub in the heath family that can grow to heights in excess of 13 feet — even on what looks to us like barren ground. This plant thrives on adversity: rocky ridges and outcrops with thin, low-nutrient soil. But while it can withstand fire, this plant will never adapt to the human-induced habitat destruction that threatens its surviving populations in the hills east of San Francisco Bay. Careless vegetation and fire-management activities by the city of Oakland, including grazing, herbicide spraying, and contracted manual vegetation removal, have caused substantial losses of pallid manzanita, and many manzanitas in the Oakland Hills have also been bulldozed to make way for development.

Currently, the Center is pushing Oakland to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, East Bay Regional Park District, and local watershed groups on how to avoid further devastation to the pallid manzanita. We’re also requesting that the city come into compliance with California law by preparing environmental impact reports for any development projects likely to affect the plant. On top of that, we’re pressuring Oakland to complete a proposed “Vegetation Management Plan” for the area that will provide fire protection while taking steps to recover pallid manzanita by implementing the recommendations of the species’ recovery plan.