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Wyoming Rare Plant Field Guide


Interest in the conservation of rare plant species has increased greatly since the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Many federal land management agencies in Wyoming, such as the US Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), have adopted policies to ensure the continued survival of officially designated US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Endangered, Threatened, and candidate plant species. The USFS has also established an official Sensitive species program to document plants of special management concern. Other agencies, such as the National Park Service (NPS) and Department of Defense (DOD) have added rare plant conservation to their mandates.

The ability to recognize rare species in the field is of fundamental importance to the development and implementation of conservation efforts. Too often in the past, however, land managers, range conservationists, foresters, and field biologists have been frustrated by the inaccessibility of this type of information. In response to this problem, the Wyoming Rare Plant Technical Committee (currently made up of representatives from USFWS, USFS, BLM, NPS, Wyoming Department of Agriculture, and The Nature Conservancy's Wyoming Natural Diversity Database (TNC/ WYNDD)) was established in 1992 to develop an illustrated field guide to the rare species of Wyoming. The "Wyoming Rare Plant Field Guide" is the result of their efforts.

Objectives: The objective of this guide is to assist federal personnel, professional and amateur botanists, and interested lay persons in the identification of the rarest plant species in Wyoming. Species covered in the guide include current USFWS candidate and listed Threatened and Endangered plants, USFS Sensitive species, and plants of special concern monitored by WYNDD.

Format: The first section of the guide contains a number of rare plant species lists. A reference list includes the federal status and TNC Heritage Rank (see Definitions and Codes) for all species covered in the book. Additional lists record the distribution of rare plants by agency, management area, vegetation, and soil type. Species in these lists are arranged alphabetically by scientific name and are cross-referenced by pertinent synonyms.

The second half of the book contains individual species descriptions. Each species is illustrated by a line drawing in which the diagnostic field characteristics are labeled. An attempt is made to describe these features in nontechnical language. In those cases where technical terms cannot be avoided, these words are defined in the glossary at the end of the book. Similar (look-alike) species are discussed, with an emphasis on those occurring in Wyoming. Likewise, information on flowering/fruiting period, distribution, and habitat emphasize conditions in the state. Color photographs of the growth form of these rare plants in the field and of typical habitat are also included.

Additional sources of information, including state and regional floras, articles, and reports, are listed in the References section. In each species description references are briefly listed by author and year of publication.

The guide is arranged in a three-ring binder style to allow for additions and deletions of species and for updating rare plant lists. Updates will be issued as time and funding allows.

WYNDD serves as the central repository of information on rare species of Wyoming. This information is constantly being updated as new data become available. Agency personnel as well as professional and amateur botanists are encouraged to work closely with WYNDD staff to ensure that the most current information possible is being used to assist management decisions involving rare species.

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