Friday, August 26, 2022

DCNR Invites Comments On Changes To List Of Extirpated, Endangered, Threatened, Rare PA Native Wild Plants

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is inviting public comments on proposed changes to the
Pennsylvania Native Wild Plant List to protect plants that are extirpated, endangered, threatened or rare.  (formal notice)

This proposed rulemaking includes a total of 82 substantive changes to the conservation of Pennsylvania native wild plant regulation species classification lists as follows--

-- 30 plants being removed from the list

-- 24 plants being added to the list

-- 22 plants moving from a lower classification to a higher one

-- 6 plants moving from a higher classification to a lower one

Each plant proposed for classification changes are thoroughly described in Native Wild Plant Species Accounts, including number of populations, trends, taxonomy and threats to the species.

Environmental Permitting

The proposed changes to the Pennsylvania Native Wild Plant List will be incorporated into the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory

PNDI is a database that maintains the Department's list of native wild plant classifications, as well as native rare wildlife classifications from the Game Commission, the Fish and Boat Commission and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. 

PNDI provides the most current, reliable and objective scientific information about ecological resources in this Commonwealth and it is used to help inform environmental decisions in this Commonwealth. 

Most notably, DEP uses PNDI to inform its environmental permitting decisions through the online Conservation Explorer Tool.

What Are Native Wild Plants?

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. 

The Department classifies approximately one-fifth of these species because they are a conservation concern. The other four-fifths of these species are considered secure and thus not classified.

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 (within the United States and within this Commonwealth); threats such as pests, invasive species and habitat loss; decrease or increase in population numbers; and taxonomic information. (Note, this 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.

To make classification decisions, the Department uses data referred to as ''State ranks.'' In the Commonwealth, each plant species receives a State rank from the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. 

The Program assigns these ranks based on a methodology created by NatureServe, an international network of natural heritage programs. The purpose of NatureServe's methodology is to bring consistency to the biodiversity conservation efforts of individuals and organizations throughout the Western Hemisphere.

The Program assigns these ranks based on a methodology created by NatureServe, an international network of natural heritage programs. 

The purpose of NatureServe'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 those 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. 

The Committee is composed of professional botanists working throughout this Commonwealth 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. 

This review process occurs continuously, as botanists are continually learning more about native wild plant species populations and threats. 

The Department will continue to update its classification lists as needed to reflect changes to native wild plant conservation needs.

Threats To Native Plants

Many factors can threaten populations of plants and cause them to become rare. Some of the most common threats to plants in Pennsylvania include--

-- Habitat loss and fragmentation, due to development or conversion of habitat

-- Invasive plants displacing native plants

-- Creation of more edge habitat, increasing the threat of invasive plant species

-- Selective browsing by white-tailed deer or other wildlife may prevent plants from reproducing

--Over collection by people

Things You Can Do

There are some things everyone can do to help native wild plants--

-- Don’t pick native wild plants. Picking flowers means the plant will not go to seed. Take pictures, but leave the flowers in their habitats.

-- Do not remove plants from the wild to plant at home. They generally will not survive and removing them hurts their natural populations.

-- Avoid spreading invasive plants and remove them at home.

-- Plant native species in your yard, and ask for them at the garden center.

How To Submit Comments

For much more information on the process, the list of proposed changes and instructions on how to submit comments, Read the entire PA Bulletin notice.

Comments and questions should be directed to Rebecca H. Bowen, Chief, Conservation Science and Ecological Resources Division, Bureau of Forestry, (717) 787-3444 or send email to:

For more information on this program, visit DCNR’s Wild Plant webpage and the PA Natural Heritage Program website.

 For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. 

Related Article:

-- PA Natural Heritage Program Celebrates 40 Years Of Discovery - New Species, Solving Mysteries, Finding Rare Species In New Places

[Posted: August 26, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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