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Recovery Strategy for the Victoria’s Owl clover (Castilleja victoriae) in Canada - 2017 [Proposed]

Part 1 – Federal Addition to the Recovery Plan for Victoria’s Owl-clover (Castilleja victoriae) in British Columbia, prepared by Environment and Climate Change Canada

Preface

The federal, provincial, and territorial government signatories under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996) agreed to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada. Under the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA), the federal competent ministers are responsible for the preparation of recovery strategies for listed Extirpated, Endangered, and Threatened species and are required to report on progress within five years after the publication of the final document on the SAR Public Registry.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change is the competent minister under SARA for the Victoria’s Owl-clover and has prepared the federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1), as per section 37 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with the Province of British Columbia, as per section 39(1) of SARA. SARA section 44 allows the Minister to adopt all or part of an existing plan for the species if it meets the requirements under SARA for content (sub-sections 41(1) or (2)). The Province of British Columbia provided the attached recovery plan for Victoria’s Owl-clover (Part 2) as science advice to the jurisdictions responsible for managing the species in British Columbia. It was prepared in cooperation with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Environment and Climate Change Canada, or any other jurisdiction alone. All Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of Victoria’s Owl-clover and Canadian society as a whole.

This recovery strategy will be followed by one or more action plans that will provide information on recovery measures to be taken by Environment and Climate Change Canada and other jurisdictions and/or organizations involved in the conservation of the species. Implementation of this strategy is subject to appropriations, priorities, and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations.

The recovery strategy sets the strategic direction to arrest or reverse the decline of the species, including identification of critical habitat to the extent possible. It provides all Canadians with information to help take action on species conservation. When critical habitat is identified, either in a recovery strategy or an action plan, SARA requires that critical habitat then be protected.

In the case of critical habitat identified for terrestrial species including migratory birds SARA requires that critical habitat identified in a federally protected areaFootnote 1 be described in the Canada Gazette within 90 days after the recovery strategy or action plan that identified the critical habitat is included in the public registry.  A prohibition against destruction of critical habitat under ss. 58(1) will apply 90 days after the description of the critical habitat is published in the Canada Gazette.

For critical habitat located on other federal lands, the competent minister must either make a statement on existing legal protection or make an order so that the prohibition against destruction of critical habitat applies.

If the critical habitat for a migratory bird is not within a federal protected area and is not on federal land, within the exclusive economic zone or on the continental shelf of Canada, the prohibition against destruction can only apply to those portions of the critical habitat that are habitat to which the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 applies as per SARA ss. 58(5.1) and ss. 58(5.2).

For any part of critical habitat located on non-federal lands, if the competent minister forms the opinion that any portion of critical habitat is not protected by provisions in or measures under SARA or other Acts of Parliament, or the laws of the province or territory, SARA requires that the Minister recommend that the Governor in Council make an order to prohibit destruction of critical habitat. The discretion to protect critical habitat on non-federal lands that is not otherwise protected rests with the Governor in Council.

Additions and modifications to the adopted document

The following sections have been included to address specific requirements of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) that are not addressed in the Recovery Plan for Victoria’s Owl-clover (Castilleja victoriae) in British Columbia (Part 2 of this document, referred to henceforth as “the provincial recovery plan”), and/or to provide updated or additional information.

Under SARA, there are specific requirements and processes set out regarding the protection of critical habitat. Therefore, statements in the provincial recovery plan referring to protection of survival/recovery habitat may not directly correspond to federal requirements. Recovery measures dealing with the protection of habitat are adopted; however, whether these measures will result in protection of critical habitat under SARA will be assessed following publication of the final federal recovery strategy.

1 Critical habitat

This section replaces the “Section 7.1: Description of the Species’ Survival/Recovery Habitat” section in the provincial recovery plan.

Section 41(1)(c) of SARA requires that recovery strategies include an identification of the species’ critical habitat, to the extent possible, as well as examples of activities that are likely to result in its destruction. The provincial recovery plan for Victoria’s Owl-clover includes a description of the biophysical attributes of survival/recovery habitat. This science advice was used to inform the following critical habitat sections in this federal recovery strategy.

Critical habitat for Victoria’s Owl-clover is identified in this document to the extent possible; as responsible jurisdictions and/or other interested parties conduct research to address knowledge gaps, the existing critical habitat methodology and identification may be modified and/or refined to reflect new knowledge.

It is recognized that the critical habitat identified in this recovery strategy is insufficient to achieve the population and distribution objective for the species (Section 5.2 of the provincial recovery plan), because it does not identify habitat for re-introduction at two additional sites within the historic range (required to achieve historic levels prior to negative impacts of human activity). The feasibility and suitability of reintroduction at additional sites is currently unknown. A schedule of studies (Section 1.2) has been included which outlines the activities required to complete the identification of critical habitat. The identification of critical habitat will be updated when the information becomes available, either in a revised recovery strategy or action plan(s).

1.1 Identification of the species' critical habitat

Geospatial location of areas containing critical habitat

Victoria’s Owl-clover is found in open areas in vernal seeps and along the margins of vernal poolsFootnote 1, near the coast of southeast Vancouver Island and adjacent small islands, in British Columbia. Critical habitat is identified for Victoria’s Owl-clover at four locations (Figures 1 & 2); these align with populations provided in the provincial recovery plan:

  • Gonzales Point (Figure 1)
  • Harling Point (Figure 1)
  • Trial Islands Ecological Reserve (Figure 1)
  • Cattle Point (Figure 2)

The area containing critical habitat for Victoria’s Owl-clover is based on two components: (1) areas occupied by individual plants or patches of plants within the past 25 yearsFootnote 2, including the associated potential location error from GPS units (ranging up to 25 m uncertainty distance) around observations; and, (2) a 50 m distance (i.e., critical function zone distanceFootnote 3) to encompass immediately adjacent areas required for the persistence of local populations.

Although Cattle Point is characterized as “potentially extirpated” in the provincial recovery plan, it is considered to be important recovery habitat for this species. Recovery actions including habitat restoration and re-introduction are currently focused on this site.

Biophysical attributes of critical habitat

Within the geospatial areas identified as containing critical habitat, critical habitat is identified wherever any of the following habitat types occur:

  • Open/exposed habitats with short or sparse vegetation
  • Coastal freshwater seeps and margins of vernal pools
  • Shallow soils over gneissic bedrock knolls and benches

The soils in these habitat types tend to be saturated for most of the winter and early spring, becoming very dry in summer. Victoria’s Owl-clover is thought to be a root hemiparasite (Fairbarns and Egger 2007) and therefore may require a host plant for partial nutrient sources. The host plant for Victoria’s Owl-clover is unknown but may be an assemblage of species.

Biophysical attributes of critical habitat include the vegetation (composition and abundance of plant species), substrates, and related hydrological properties that comprise the habitat types described above. The areas containing critical habitat for Victoria’s Owl-clover (totalling 11.4 ha) are presented in Figures 1 and 2. Critical habitat for the Victoria’s Owl-clover in Canada occurs within the shaded yellow polygons (units) shown on each map where the critical habitat criteria described in this section are met. The biophysical attributes required by Victoria’s Owl-clover overlap geospatially within suitable habitat types, in that they combine to provide an ecological context for the species at sites where it occurs. Therefore the shaded yellow polygons (units) shown on each map represent identified critical habitat, excepting only those features that clearly do not meet the needs of the species. These include: (i) existing anthropogenic infrastructure (e.g., buildings), (ii) areas below the highest tide mark, and (iii) areas dominated by woody vegetation (trees, shrubs) and/or large perennials. These features do not possess the attributes required by Victoria’s Owl-clover and they are not identified as critical habitat.

The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid overlay shown on Figures 1 and 2 is a standardized national grid system that highlights the general geographic area containing critical habitat, for land use planning and/or environmental assessment purposes.

Figure 1. Critical habitat for Victoria’s Owl-clover at Gonzales Point, Harling Point and Trial Islands, B.C. is represented by the shaded yellow polygons (units), in accordance with the criteria set out in Section 1.1. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid overlay (red outline) shown on this figure is a standardized national grid system that indicates the general geographic area within which critical habitat is found. Areas outside of the shaded yellow polygons do not contain critical habitat.
Image of map (see long description below)
Long description for Figure 1

Figure 1 shows a critical habitat map for Victoria’s Owl-clover at Gonzales Point, Harling Point and Trial Islands, B.C. The critical habitat is in accordance with the criteria and methodology set out in section 1.1 and shown by 1 km x 1 km standardized UTM grid overlay. There are 5 grid squares shown containing shaded polygons between Gonzales Point and McMicking Point, dispersed throughout Trial Islands, and at the south-most region of Harling Point.

Figure 2. Critical habitat for Victoria’s Owl-clover at Cattle Point, B.C. is represented by the shaded yellow polygon (unit), in accordance with the criteria set out in Section 1.1. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid overlay (red outline) shown on this figure is a standardized national grid system that indicates the general geographic area within which critical habitat is found. Areas outside of the shaded yellow polygon do not contain critical habitat.
Image of map (see long description below)
Long description for Figure 2

Figure 2 shows a critical habitat map for Victoria’s Owl-clover at Cattle Point, B.C. The critical habitat is in accordance with the criteria and methodology set out in section 1.1 and shown by 1 km x 1 km standardized UTM grid overlay. There are two grid squares spanning from just north of The Naze down to just north of Emily Islet. There is s shaded polygon located right at the coast of Cattle Point.

1.2 Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat

The following schedule of studies (Table 1) outlines the activity required to complete the identification of critical habitat for Victoria’s Owl-clover:

Table 1. Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat for Victoria's Owl-clover.
Description of activityRationaleTimeline
Identify two new/additional sites for Victoria’s Owl-clover that are within the species’ historical range in Canada, suitable for habitat restoration, and feasible to use as recovery habitat; where feasible, deliberately reintroduce the species into restored habitat.This activity is required such that sufficient critical habitat is identified to meet the population and distribution (recovery) objective (section 5.3 in the provincial recovery plan).2017 - 2022

1.3 Activities likely to result in destruction of critical habitat

Understanding what constitutes destruction of critical habitat is necessary for the protection and management of critical habitat. Destruction is determined on a case by case basis. Destruction would result if part of the critical habitat were degraded, either permanently or temporarily, such that it would not serve its function when needed by the species. Destruction may result from a single or multiple activities at one point in time or from the cumulative effects of one or more activities over time. Activities described in Table 2 include those likely to cause destruction of critical habitat for the species; however, destructive activities are not limited to those listed. Additional information on the negative effects of these activities is provided in “Description of the Threats” (Section 4.2) in the provincial recovery plan.

Table 2. Examples of activities likely to result in destruction of critical habitat for Victoria's Owl-clover.
Description of activityDescription of effect on attributes of habitatAdditional information including related IUCN threata
Human use of landscape that results in significant adverse effectsb, such as recreational use (creation of trails, roads, or picnic areas)

Causes destruction of critical habitat via disturbance and/or compaction of soils to the extent that it is no longer suitable for Victoria’s Owl-clover (growing plants and/or seed germination).

Also causes destruction by increased invasive plant introduction/encroachment. Invasive alien plants can compete with Victoria’s Owl-clover and alter the availability of light, water, and nutrients in the habitat, such that it is no longer suitable for the species.

Related IUCN-CMP threats:  #6.1, 8.1 

The population at Harling Point is subject to direct destruction of critical habitat through visitor trampling and/or picnicking.

It is more likely that critical habitat will be destroyed if these activities occur during the growing season.

Dumping of waste (e.g., plant material or garbage)

Deposited debris alters the availability of suitable substrate, light, water, and nutrients, such that the habitat is no longer suitable for Victoria’s Owl-clover.

Also causes destruction by increased invasive plant introduction/encroachment (see above).

Related IUCN-CMP threats: #9.4, 8.1:

This is mainly an historical threat at Trial Island; in the past there has been garbage and plant debris piled in various areas on the island. It is possible this activity may occur again in the future, as work is continuing on the island.

When garbage piles are removed, non-native invasive plants can encroach newly disturbed soils and indirectly destroy Victoria’s Owl-clover critical habitat.

Conversion of natural landscape areas for development (e.g., tourism & recreation), and/or development (expansion or modification) of human infrastructure.

This activity can destroy critical habitat via habitat alteration such that it is no longer suitable for Victoria’s Owl-clover, e.g., soil burial, disturbance, or compaction; shading (by introduced plants or nearby structures); altered moisture regime (impounded drainage, or reduced water flow to the plants through ditching or diversion of subsurface water by built structures).

Also causes destruction by increased invasive plant introduction/encroachment (see above).

Related IUCN-CMP threats: #1.3, 6.3, 8.1

The population at Gonzales Point occurs on the Royal Victoria Golf Course. The fairway where this population is located could possibly be extended and (if so) is likely to destroy critical habitat for the species.

One subpopulation at Trial Island is over top of the water supply line, which may need repair in the future. It is more likely that critical habitat will be destroyed if this repair is done during the growing season.

a Threat classification is based on the IUCN-CMP (World Conservation Union–Conservation Measures Partnership) unified threats classification system.

b Significant adverse effects are those that negatively impact the species’ survival and recovery. Success of the species’ survival and recovery will be assessed by the adopted population and distribution (recovery) objective, and the associated performance measures set out in this document, that: the distribution and abundance of Victoria’s Owl-clover has been maintained, i.e., population size and extent of occurrence or area of occupancy at each site is stable and/or increasing.

2 Measuring progress

This section replaces the “Section 8: Measuring Progress” section in the provincial recovery plan.

Priority actions for Victoria’s Owl-clover are included in Table 3 of the provincial recovery plan. The performance indicators presented below provide a way to define and measure progress toward achieving the population and distribution objectives:

  • The distribution of Victoria’s Owl-clover in Canada has been maintained (i.e., extent of occurrence has not decreased;
  • The abundance of Victoria’s Owl-clover in Canada has been maintained (i.e., population sizes have not decreased);
  • The distribution and abundance of Victoria’s Owl-clover in Canada is increased, where feasible, through newly identified and/or re-established populations.

Measurements of population size (as measured during peak flowering times) should allow for annual effects in numbers of flowering plants and related variation in annual monitoring results, i.e., trends in annual estimates are to be evaluated over the course of a longer time period, for example, over a five year interval.

3 Statement on action plans

One or more action plans for Victoria’s Owl-clover will be posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry by 2022.

4 Effects on the environment and other species

This section replaces “Section 9: Effects on Other Species” section in the provincial recovery plan.

A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making and to evaluate whether the outcomes of a recovery planning document could affect any component of the environment or any of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy’s (FSDS) goals and targets.

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts upon non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the strategy itself, but are also summarized below in this statement.

The distributions of many other provincially and federally at-risk plant species overlap with Victoria’s Owl-clover. Recovery planning activities for Victoria’s Owl-clover are expected to benefit co-occurring rare species in vernal pools and seeps within Garry Oak Ecosystems, through habitat protection and management of threats. Recovery planning activities for Victoria’s Owl-clover will be implemented with consideration for all co-occurring species at risk, such that there are no negative impacts to these species or their habitats.

5 References

Fairbarns, M. and J.M. Egger. 2007. Castilleja victoriae (Orobanchaceae): a new rare species from southeastern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, and the adjacent San Juan Islands, Washington, U.S.A. Madroño 54(4):334–342.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

These federally protected areas are:  a national park of Canada named and described in Schedule 1 to the Canada National Parks Act, The Rouge National Park established by the Rouge National Urban Park Act, a marine protected area under the Oceans Act, a migratory bird sanctuary under the Migratory Bird Convention Act, 1994 or a national wildlife area under the Canada Wildlife Act see ss. 58(2) of SARA.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

Vernal seeps are a result of shallow groundwater flow that emerges from sloping terrain while vernal pools are seasonally flooded depressions that form on top of impermeable layers such as hardpan, claypan, or bedrock. Both vernal seeps and vernal pools tend to dry up by late spring or early summer.

Return to footnote 2 referrer

Footnote 3

Where habitat retains the potential to support an occurrence (either currently and/or through restoration efforts).

Return to footnote 3 referrer

Footnote 4

Critical function zone distance has been defined as the threshold habitat fragment size required for maintaining constituent microhabitat properties for a species (e.g., critical light, moisture, humidity levels necessary for survival). Existing research provides a logical basis for suggesting a minimum critical function zone distance of 50 m for rare plant species occurrences (see: Recovery Strategy for the Branched Phacelia (Phacelia ramosissima var. ramosissima) in Canada – 2012).

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