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Habitat Management Helps Delist Rare Aquatic Plant

Water howellia
Dieter Wilken
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Water howellia

Habitat Management Helps Delist Rare Aquatic Plant

The federal government announced Tuesday it is delisting a rare Western Montana plant from the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service says the water howellia is fully recovered and no longer needs listing on the Endangered Species Act. The leggy, white-flowered aquatic herb relies on seasonal wetlands and is found in five states, including in Montana’s Swan Valley.

The plant was listed in 1994, when it was facing threats from land management activities such as timber harvesting, grazing and road building projects.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said improved science, land transfers and collaborative management plans led to the delisting decision.

Andrea Pipp is a botanist with the Montana Natural Heritage Program, one of the conservation partners responsible for the plant’s recovery.

“It seems to be working,” she said. “The habitats seem to be staying intact, the hydrology seems to be staying intact and the plant has persisted.”

The water howellia will now be monitored across its range for a minimum of five years. If new threats develop, the plant may be relisted or have its monitoring period extended.

Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.