Staff Report

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a draft recovery plan today for the conservation and recovery of La Graciosa thistle, a federally endangered plant.  

“The recovery plan outlines actions that would adequately protect viable and self-sustaining populations of the species throughout its geographic range,” said Kristie Scarazzo, botanist for the USFWS in Ventura.  

La Graciosa thistle occurs in coastal dune wetland habitats on sandy soils and is restricted to a small portion of the Central Coast. Currently, there are eight known surviving occurrences of La Graciosa thistle, located within the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes complex in southwestern San Luis Obispo and northwestern Santa Barbara counties. The primary threat to the species is groundwater decline, likely from extraction for urban, agricultural and industrial uses.  

“Ultimately, increasing the overall viability of the species through implementation of the recovery plan will ensure that La Graciosa thistle is better equipped and able to adapt to changing environmental conditions,” said Scarazzo. 

Recovery plans are required for federally listed species. The draft recovery plan for La Graciosa thistle was developed with input from USFWS partners, including California Department of Parks and Recreation, Trihydro Corporation, Dunes Lakes Limited, Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County, Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.  

The draft plan published in the Federal Register on June 11, opening a 30-day public comment period. The USFWS will consider comments from all interested parties received by July 12. Comments may be submitted by email to or U.S. mail to Field Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2493 Portola Road Suite B, Ventura CA, 93003  A copy of the draft recovery plan is available here.