Cuyamaca Lake Downingia [Downingia concolor Greene var. brevior McVaugh]

Cuyamaca Lake Downingia [Downingia concolor Greene var. brevior McVaugh]

Listing CNPS List 1B R-E-D Code 3-3-3

State/Federal. Status -- CE/C1 CAMPANULACEAE May-Jul.

Global Rank G4T1 State Rank S1.1

Distribution: San Diego County

Habitat: Montane meadows on the periphery of Cuyamaca Lake are the preferred habitat of this small but colorful annual. Shrubs and tall grasses are generally not present and plant associates include small Juncus species and low growing, facultative wetland elements. This habitat is a montane variation on the coastal vernal pool, with very moist spring soils drying out in the late summer. Soils are mapped in the vicinity of the lake as loamy alluvial land.

Known Sites: Following removal of cattle from vast meadows on the north side of Cuyamaca Lake, several thousand or more individuals flowered in 1988 along the retreating borders of the wetlands near the causeway, over a distance of at least 300 yards. This occurred in a drought year; during spring 1991 this area was under a substantial body of water following concentrated spring rainfall. It also grows near Stonewall Jackson Mine in sandy depressions adjacent to tall grasses. Data Base reports are from the eastern face of North Peak 1 mile east of the summit at the 4800 foot contour, and both south and east of Camp Tapawingo at the southern end of Cuyamaca Reservoir, and south of the intersection of Highway 79 and Sunrise Highway at the northern end of Cuyamaca Reservoir.

Status: Following years with extremely limited populations, the Cuyamaca Downingia is now expanding around the lake. Continued protection is needed. This annual was considered close to extinction prior to the removal of cattle from its primary habitat around Cuyamaca Lake. Allowing the lake waters to remain at a high level for consecutive years could affect the robust population noted in 1988, by maintaining the primary habitat under water. Horse corrals and trails are uncomfortably near the Stonewall Jackson Mine site. Cattle and visitors should be restricted from the main area of population resurgence for the Cuyamaca Lake Downingia. Federally Endangered status is recommended for this species. All populations should be fully protected.

Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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