One tiny, tiny, tiny step for endangered species

A record 280 species are candidates for protection under the U.S.'s Endangered Species Act, but at least one of those is now getting a chance to be saved from extinction. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said this week it will propose that an extremely rare Hawaiian plant, Phyllostegia hispida, receive coveted protected status.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, it took nearly two and a half years for the Service to make this "emergency" designation, despite knowing in 2005 that there were just two Phyllostegia hispida plants left in existence -- only one of which is reproductively mature.

According to the CBD, "the Bush administration has protected the fewest species of any administration in the history of the Endangered Species Act, to date protecting only 58 species, compared to 522 under the Clinton administration and 231 under Bush Sr.'s administration."

There are still many steps to take before Phyllostegia hispida officially receives protected status. Let's hope the species last long enough to get it.


CBD is absolutely right to criticize the Bush record here (and they've done a great job tracking the Fish and Wildlife Service's anemic record for the last seven years).

It's also worth noting what kind of species the Bush Administration tends to be least resistant about protecting. Plants with only two recorded individuals; species in foreign countries; species located in caves. In other words, species whose protection is least likely to result in any sort of regulatory inconvenience to special interests.