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The Navy Rescues Species on San Clemente Island

July 20, 2023

Connor Merritt

Connor Merritt

In January this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that conservation efforts with the U.S. Navy made some successful strides on San Clemente Island. 

San Clemente Island is nestled in the Pacific Ocean off the southern coast of California and its isolation has nurtured a variety of endemic species. This makes it a haven for rare plants and animals found nowhere else: From the vibrant hues of wildflowers to the melodious calls of rare birds, San Clemente Island’s charm continues to captivate all who experience its wonders.

Now, thanks to the Navy’s efforts, the San Clemente Island paintbrush, lotus, larkspur and bush-mallow plants, as well as the San Clemente Bell’s sparrow — five species in total — are fully recovered and off the endangered species list.  

“The recoveries we celebrate today in this unique place demonstrate what is possible when partners work together under the Endangered Species Act,” said Service Director Martha Williams of the announcement. “Across the nation, the Service and partners have ensured hundreds of species are stable or improving. We are grateful for the Navy’s leadership and long-term commitment to recovery efforts that have enabled us to bring these species back from the brink of extinction.” 

iSportsman celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act and congratulates the Navy for their efforts in saving these five species. 

San Clemente Paintbrush

San Clemente Island Paintbrush 

The San Clemente Island Paintbrush (Castilleja grisea) is a vibrant flowering plant native to the island. With its striking red-orange bracts and slender green leaves, this species adds a splash of color to the island’s rocky slopes and coastal areas. It plays an important role in the island’s ecosystem by providing nectar for pollinators and food for herbivorous animals.


San Clemente Lotus

San Clemente Island Lotus 

Endemic to San Clemente Island, the San Clemente Island Lotus (Acmispon dendroideus) is a perennial herb known for its delicate yellow flowers and distinct trifoliate leaves. Adapted to the island’s climate, this plant species thrives in the coastal scrub areas. It helps stabilize the island’s dunes and provides a habitat for various small animals. 


San Clemente Larkspur

San Clemente Island Larkspur 

The San Clemente Island Larkspur (Delphinium variegatum ssp. kinkiense) is a beautiful flowering perennial found exclusively on the island. Its tall spires of purple-blue flowers make it visually stunning. This plant lives on the island’s rocky slopes and chaparral zones. The San Clemente Island Larkspur attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies, contributing to the island’s biodiversity.


San Clemente Bush-Mallow

San Clemente Island Bush-Mallow 

The San Clemente Island Bush-Mallow (Malacothamnus clementinus) is a shrubby perennial known for its showy pink flowers and fuzzy, gray-green leaves. It is endemic to San Clemente Island and is well-adapted to its coastal bluffs. This species provides essential habitat and food for the island’s native birds and insects, increasing the overall ecosystem’s health. 


San Clemente Bell's Sparrow

San Clemente Island Sparrow 

The San Clemente Island Sparrow (Melospiza melodia clementae) is a small bird species that is found only on San Clemente Island. With its brownish plumage and distinctive song, this sparrow is a symbol of the island’s unique avian biodiversity. 

To read the original press release go to the Department of Defense’s website. 

Learn about the importance of elk conservation on iSportsmanUSA. 
Photos courtesy of USFWS Pacific Southwest Region.

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