Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 18, 2023


Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495,

Golden Paintbrush Recovery Is Latest Endangered Species Act Success Story

Beautiful Prairie Flower Increased Across Western Washington, Oregon, British Columbia

PORTLAND, Ore.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today finalized removing the golden paintbrush from the endangered species list after the flowering plant recovered in the Pacific Northwest.

Historically found from southwestern British Columbia to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, the golden paintbrush is a short-lived perennial herb with bright yellow flowers that is covered in soft, sticky hairs. The plant, which can grow up to a foot high, was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1997, with only 10 known populations in Washington and British Columbia.

Now, thanks in part to replanting efforts, at least 48 sites of golden paintbrush have been documented. In Washington, there are 19 sites: five in the South Puget Sound prairie landscape; six in the San Juan Islands; seven on Whidbey Island, and one near Dungeness Bay in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In Oregon, the paintbrush has returned to 26 sites within the Willamette Valley. In British Columbia, there are three known sites, each located on a separate island.

“We almost lost this beautiful flower, but thanks to the Endangered Species Act it’s now abundant,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Saving the golden paintbrush is yet another success of the Endangered Species Act, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. With climate change looming and a growing human footprint, we need this important law more than ever.”

By the late 1990s, the paintbrush had been eliminated from the Willamette Valley due to habitat loss caused by fire suppression, invasive species, development and recreational picking. Maintenance of the plant’s prairie and grasslands habitats helped support the paintbrush’s return to its native range in Oregon.

The Fish and Wildlife Service expects the continued management of the paintbrush’s habitat will contribute to the recovery of a number of other species protected by the Endangered Species Act. They include Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly and three subspecies of Mazama pocket gopher in Washington, along with the endangered Willamette daisy, the threatened Kincaid’s lupine and Nelson’s checker-mallow in Oregon.

To learn more about the Endangered Species Act during its 50th anniversary, follow this link.

Golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) photo by Robert Pos/USFWS. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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