War of the Primroses

Did you know that the Oakland hills have their own species of flower? Indeed, the Presidio clarkia, a lovely purple bloom in the evening primrose family, grows only in two places: the Oakland hills, and the San Francisco Presidio, for which it is named. We had no idea, until the folks at the Center for Biological Diversity sent us a press release today expressing concern that surveyors working on the Crestmont development project in the Oakland hills may be getting way too close to the endangered species’ habitat. Although they can’t be sure if any of the plants have actually been killed, says Center for Biological Diversity spokesman Jeff Miller, members of their ally group, Friends of Oakland’s Endangered Species, have reported some worrisome claims. “Plants were trampled by contractors and the contractors were digging in locations where we know there are clarkia,” says Miller.

The Center for Biological Diversity has long been critical of the city of Oakland’s plans to protect the hills’ endangered plant life from urban encroachment. Other species on the group’s watchlist include the most beautiful jewelflower, considered a federal “species of concern,” and the San Francisco popcornflower, which the state considers endangered. (We swear we are not making these plants up. They are real, but they are pretty rare: both still exist in small pockets in the East Bay.)

The Center for Biological Diversity is now demanding that Oakland revoke the permits for the Crestmont development.

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