Friday, November 24, 2017

DCNR Proposes To Add, Delete, Change Native Wild Plant Classifications

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources published notice in the November 25 PA Bulletin asking for comments on proposed changes to Chapter 45 regulations and the list of Native Wild Plants that are endangered, threatened or rare regulated under the Wild Resource Conservation Act.
DCNR now includes 604  species on the Native Wild Plant list because they are a conservation concern.  After these changes there will be a total of 582 plants on this list.
DCNR is proposing 51 classification changes in this proposed regulation, including: 9 currently unclassified plant species proposed to be newly classified and added to the list; 11 currently classified plant species proposed to be reclassified to another part of the list; 31 currently classified plant species that are proposed to be declassified.
The proposal also changes the scientific names of 79 plants to the modern nomenclature.
This list of plants is used as part of the review process for DEP environmental permits and will, when finalized, be incorporated into the PA Natural Diversity Inventory and DCNR’s online permit review and planning tool Conservation Explorer.
Click Here for a webinar describing the changes.  Click Here for a fact sheet on the changes.
Classification Process
Native wild plant species are those plant species that existed in this Commonwealth prior to European settlement. There are approximately 2,800 native wild plant species that currently exist or formerly existed in this Commonwealth.
Prior to these proposed changes 228 species were classified as endangered, 78 threatened, 3 vulnerable, 41 rare, 148 tentatively undetermined and 106 are extirpated (no longer exist).
The Department begins the process of classifying native wild plants by collecting and analyzing data on native wild plant species in this Commonwealth.
The Department uses the following data to make its classification decisions: numbers of populations known in this Commonwealth; number of individuals within populations; the plant's range (amount of ground that it covers); threats such as pests, invasive species and habitat loss; decrease or increase in population numbers; and taxonomic information.
The previous list is not exhaustive.
The Department analyzes this data to determine the population, distribution, habitat needs, limiting factors, and other biological and ecological information about each plant species.
An important piece of data that the Department uses to make classification decisions are referred to as ''State ranks.'' In this Commonwealth, each plant species receives a State rank from the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program.
The PNHP assigns these ranks based on a methodology created by Nature Serve, an international network of natural heritage programs.
The purpose of Nature Serve's methodology is to bring consistency to the biodiversity conservation efforts of individuals and organizations throughout the Western Hemisphere. This methodology is used across North America, Central America and South America.
By using this standard tool, the Department ensures its evaluation methods are, at a minimum, equivalent to that of other states and countries in the Western Hemisphere and that its classification decisions are based on sound science.
Throughout this process the Department also receives data, information and recommendations from the Pennsylvania Biological Survey's Vascular Plant Technical Committee (Committee).
The Committee is composed of professional botanists working throughout Pennsylvania in academic, consulting, governmental and conservation organizations. Each year, the Committee makes classification recommendations for native wild plants based on the research and expertise of its professional botanists.
The Department assimilates and reviews all data and recommendations it collects and receives, and determines the appropriate classifications for each native wild plant species under the definitions in Chapter 45.
Public Comments
DCNR will accept comments on the proposed changes until December 24, 2017.
Comments should be sent to: Rebecca H. Bowen, Ecological Services Section, Bureau of Forestry, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, P.O. Box 8552, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8552 (hand delivery, express mail or first class mail to Rachel Carson State Office Building, 6th Floor, 400 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101-2301)
Comments may also be submitted to the Department at and use ''Chapter 45 proposed rulemaking'' as the subject line.
For more information on this program and DCNR’s role, visit DCNR’s Wild Plants webpage.
(Photo: Ratibida pinnata (Vent.) Barnhard - Gray-Headed Prairie Coneflower proposed as endangered.)

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