Bird-foot Checkerbloom (Sidalcea pedata)
Bird-foot checkerbloom is a California endangered plant species, which means that killing or possessing the plant is prohibited by the California Endangered Species Act (“CESA”). Bird-foot checkerbloom is also listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Bird-foot checkerbloom is a perennial herb that is found towards the drier edges of moist meadows, or in drier sparsely-vegetated meadows in the Big Bear Valley area of San Bernardino County. At the time of this webpage posting, there were 17 occurrences of bird-foot checkerbloom presumed to still exist in the California Natural Diversity Database.
The historical distribution of bird-foot checkerbloom is not well known, although it was likely much more common before the creation of Big Bear Lake and subsequent development nearby. Much of the former moist meadow habitat necessary for the species has been eliminated, and in the 1998 Recovery Plan for the species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that less than 8.1 acres of occupied bird-foot checkerbloom habitat remains. Because bird-foot checkerbloom is restricted to areas with unique hydrological conditions, and because those same areas are also vulnerable to impacts from development, development of private land is the most serious threat to the species. In addition, trampling from various recreational activities, alterations in hydrology, invasive species, fire suppression, habitat fragmentation and climate change also threaten the species with extinction.
To prevent extinction of bird-foot checkerbloom it is important to work with landowners to identify conservation opportunities on private land and resolve any conflicts with weed abatement activities that may be detrimental to the species. Monitoring of species occurrences and surveys for new populations should be conducted and a seed bank should be established focused on collecting seeds from isolated populations that are the most likely to become extirpated.
CDFW has contributed to the following bird-foot checkerbloom documents with support via California Endangered Species Tax Check-off Funds, the federal Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund also known as “Section 6”, and other mechanisms:
- Bird-foot Checkerbloom Reserve Design Criteria: Reproductive Potential in a Fragmented Environment
- Baldwin Lake Ecological Reserve, biological monitoring report, 1993
- Baldwin Lake Ecological Reserve, biological monitoring report, 1990
- Operations and maintenance schedule, Baldwin Lake Ecological Reserve (and adjacent lands)
- Seed collection and banking of 50 plant species of critical conservation concern, phase 2
CDFW may issue permits for bird-foot checkerbloom pursuant to CESA, and you can learn more about the California laws protecting bird-foot checkerbloom and other California native plants. Populations of bird-foot checkerbloom occur in CDFW’s Inland Deserts Region. More information is also available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Species Profile for bird-foot checkerbloom.
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