Today, we and our partner, Los Padres ForestWatch, submitted a technical request to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to add the extremely rare Refugio manzanita to the country’s list of endangered species. This manzanita species can only be found along a narrow ridgeline in the Santa Ynez Mountains between Gaviota and Santa Ynez Peaks. Listing the species as endangered would offer more protection from vegetation removal projects and development. More details below.
Santa Barbara, CA — Today, the California Chaparral Institute and Los Padres ForestWatch submitted a technical request to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Refugio manzanita (Arctostaphylos refugioensis) as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). This rare plant can only be found in one place on Earth: along the Santa Ynez Mountain Crest between Gaviota and Santa Ynez Peaks in Santa Barbara County.
Discovered by botanist Roman Gankin in 1966 while he was exploring the Refugio Pass near Gaviota, the Refugio manzanita is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to approximately 15 feet tall. Like other manzanitas, its bark is a striking red color and its flowers are urn-shaped and white or pink. However, the Refugio manzanita, unlike many other manzanita species, only regenerates from seed rather than resprouting from the base of its trunk.
The Refugio manzanita is only found between 1,000 and 3,200 feet in the Santa Ynez Mountains between Gaviota Peak near Highway 101 and Santa Ynez Peak just east of Refugio Road. It has one of the most limited ranges of all manzanita species in the world. “This species is part of the rich and unique natural heritage that makes the Santa Barbara region so special,” said ForestWatch Conservation Director Bryant Baker. “It deserves to be protected.”