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Pale blue-eyed grass Sisyrinchium sarmentosum
ESA status: petitioned for listing
Pale blue-eyed grass is not really a grass, though at first it might look like one – it is a small, slender member of the iris family, and it shows its allegiance when blooming. Its pale blue-green stems and thin grass-like leaves are decorated with minute pale blue flowers in the spring, adding a subtle tint to the wet open meadows where they grow in south-central Washington and northern Oregon – the only places on earth this rare plant is found.
The pale blue-eyed grass is not only delicate in appearance, but in constitution as well. It is very sensitive to damage before or during its flowering period and can be badly damaged if grazed or trampled by cattle. Pale blue-eyed grass is also threatened by off-road vehicle use, agriculture, and hybridization with another, more common iris. Invasive species and woody shrubs given a boost by climate change encroach on their meadow habitat. There are only between 5,000 and 7,000 individual plants left, which occur in scattered populations across less than 1,000 acres. Many of those populations are too small to be self-sustaining.
In 1993 the pale blue-eyed grass was listed as a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but it was removed in 1996 during a general purge of the candidate list. Listing the blue-eyed grass could safeguard other meadow species, such as the Mardon skipper butterfly, a candidate for ESA listing. WildEarth Guardians believes that it is high time to give this delicate little iris the protection it needs to survive.
- Significant Actions
- July 2007 - WildEarth Guardians files a petition for 206 Mountain-Prairie species, including pale blue-eyed grass
- March 2008 - WildEarth Guardians files lawsuit to compel overdue preliminary finding for pale blue-eyed grass
- August 2009 - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues positive preliminary finding on petition to list pale blue-eyed grass
- October 2009 - WildEarth Guardians and Center for Native Ecosystems comment on positive preliminary finding
- February 2010 - WildEarth Guardians files lawsuit to compel overdue listing determination for pale blue-eyed grass
- Press Releases
- July 24, 2007 - “Group Seeks Federal Protection for 206 Western Endangered Species”
- March 24, 2008 - “WildEarth Guardians Seeks Federal Protection for 681 Western Species”
- December 16, 2009 - "Feds to Consider Over 100 Species For Federal Protection"
- February 8, 2010 - "Valentine's Day is Not Just About Roses"
- Species Factsheet
- Related Campaigns