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COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Bluehearts in Canada

Evaluation and Proposed Status

Existing Protection or Other Status

The small population in Pinery Provincial Park is in a public campground designated for recreational use. Ten small sub-populations have been identified and mapped. Eight of the sub-populations are immediately adjacent to campsites and campsite roads and are subject to trampling and picking (Brownell 1997 pers. obs.). Two of the subpopulations are fenced within deer exclosures, however successional changes are now occurring within them. The habitat surrounding the exclosures is intensely browsed by deer which maintain open conditions. The enclosures, which contain the majority of the bluehearts at Pinery, are becoming dominated by white cedar. The population level at Pinery may not be large enough to sustain itself particularly since encroachment by woody plants is occurring.

All other populations (approximately 97% of the individuals) occur on private lands or on occupied lands. The Richmond Park population is located on private land that is flanked by cottages on one side and the former Canadian Forces Camp Ipperwash on the other.

Ipperwash Provincial Park and adjacent crown land and Camp Ipperwash have been occupied by the Kettle Point First Nations since 1995. Until 1995, Camp Ipperwash was administered by the Department of National Defense (DND) as an infantry training facility. Buchnera americana and its habitat at Camp Ipperwash have experienced continued damage from trucks and all-terrain vehicles (Thompson et al. 1994). The site is 1006 ha in extent and is currently owned by the Federal Government. During the current process of negotiations to turn the title of the National Defence property over to The First Nations, The First Nations have requested level 3 decomissioning which would involve removal of all tree cover and searching the soil for explosives to a depth of several metres (Bob Woods, DNF, pers. comm. 1997). This would eliminate 65% of the Ontario population of bluehearts in addition to 21 other provincially rare plant species.

This species is not listed under The Endangered Species Act in Ontario. It was designated by COSEWIC as nationally threatened in 1985.

In the United States, bluehearts is officially protected by legislation designating it as endangered in Indiana, Ohio (Burns and Cusick 1984) and Georgia (Georgia Natural Heritage Program 1989).

Assessment of Status and Author’s Recommendation

In 1985, when B. americana was listed as threatened in Canada, 65% of the plants were found in provincial parks and on lands owned and managed by the federal Department of National Defence. Presently less than 3% of the plants are within land managed by a public agency and even those are threatened by successional change and recreational activities.

It is recommended that this species be upgraded from threatened to endangered in Canada based on a significant decrease in protection capabilities, a significant decline in one population and extirpation of 2 populations.