Reversing regional extinction: Recovery of golden paintbrush in Oregon

Tom Kaye, Institute for Applied Ecology

Golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) is listed as threatened and has become regionally extinct in the southern portion of its range due to habitat conversion.  A few wild populations remain in Washington and British Columbia.  Efforts to conserve the species in Oregon have emphasized wild seed collection across multiple remnant WA populations, agricultural seed increase, plug planting and seeding into restoration sites and prairies, and follow up management (including mowing, burning, and seed addition to increase plant diversity).  Concurrent research has demonstrated that the species is a generalist hemiparasite that benefits from having multiple hosts, underscoring the need to maintain or enhance plant diversity at reintroduction sites.  In addition, field tests have helped narrow the habitat type in which the species will thrive.  Since 2010, the species has established and increased in Oregon dramatically through reintroduction on conserved public and private lands, to over 350,000 plants across 23 populations in 2018.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering delisting the species due to these recent successes with population establishment.