Earlier this month, one of the rarest plants in the United States, marsh sandwort (Arenaria paludicola), found a new home at Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
This plant was once found growing in marshes and riparian areas along the Pacific coast from Los Angeles to Washington State. Due to coastal development and other threats, there are now only about ten individuals left growing in the wild. All of these remaining wild individuals are found in San Luis Obispo County in California.
One of the historic populations of this species, recorded by early botanists, was from Fort Point, just south of the Golden Gate Bridge. The site is now part of the park, but the marsh sandwort found there in the early 1900’s are no longer there. Because of this history, the park was identified as a promising introduction site for a new population.
A team of biologists from the National Park Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the University of California Santa Cruz, and several non-profits worked together to plant over 800 marsh sandwort individuals in various wetland habitats within the park. The success of these new populations will be followed closely in the coming months and years.
This multi-agency project was an important step towards preventing the extinction of this critically endangered species.