Tahoe Yellow Cress Conservation

Close of of Tahoe Yellow Cress fruiting. Close up of Tahoe Yellow Cress leaves. Close up of Tahoe Yellow Cress flowers. Tahoe Yellow Cress on the Shoreline of Lake Tahoe.

 

From crystal blue waters to snow-capped peaks, Lake Tahoe is a special place. Part of what makes it special are the unique plants and animals that call the lake home. Tahoe Yellow Cress (Rorippa subumbellata) is one of these organisms.

What does it look like?

Tahoe Yellow Cress (TYC) is in the mustard family (Brassicaceae). The plant grows low to the ground and has pinnate leaves and small yellow flowers.

Close up of Tahoe Yellow Cress Leaves. Photo credit: Gary A. Monroe.

 

Tahoe Yellow Cress  Photo credit: Gary Monroe

What is TYC’s natural habitat?

It is found on the sandy shores of the Lake Tahoe Basin, and nowhere else on earth! This makes TYC endemic. TYC also grows along stream inlets. There are many creeks and streams which flow into Lake Tahoe, and these are preferred habitats for TYC.

History of the TYC

Just over two decades ago, this distinct species was at risk of extinction. It vanished from beaches in Nevada and could only be found at a few sites on the California side of the lake. Because of this critical situation, TYC was listed as endangered by the State of California and critically endangered in Nevada. TYC was identified as a candidate for federal listing in 1999 under the Endangered Species Act.

Over the years, TYC numbers have increased. Collaboration of agencies, groups, and individuals, along with the implementation of the TYC Conservation Strategy led to this success. Since 2002, partner organizations in the Lake Tahoe Basin have worked together to identify threats and abate them through scientific research, community outreach, and protective measures.

In October 2015, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed TYC as a candidate for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), referencing the success of the TYC Conservation Strategy and the long-term, proactive and collaborative conservation demonstrated by partner organizations, to significantly reduce threats to Tahoe yellow cress. 

While the recovery of TYC is promising, the factors leading to the near extinction of TYC still exist today, emphasizing a need for continued monitoring and protection.

What are some threats to TYC?

Current threats include high water levels, lake front development, and heavy public beach use.

What is being done about it?

In 2002, a Conservation Strategy was developed with the support and involvement of  the TYC Technical Advisory Group which consisted of state, federal, local and non-profit organizations. Six conservation goals were outlined in the strategy. 

  1. Protect occupied habitat and potentially suitable habitat;
  2. Improve Tahoe yellow cress populations;
  3. Promote conditions that favor a positive metapopulation dynamic;
  4. Conduct research that directly supports management and restoration;
  5. Revise and continue the monitoring program for Tahoe yellow cress; and
  6. Implement an interagency adaptive management framework.

The 2002 Conservation Strategy (CS) identified a need for adaptive management for TYC conservation.  Soon in 2003, a Memorandum of Understanding/Conservation Agreement was signed by 13 entities to agree to cooperative implementation of the Conservation Strategy.  The resulting group was designated as the TYC Adaptive Management Working Group (AMWG) with oversight by a TYC Executive Committee.  In 2012, the TYC Executive Committee approved a revision of the 2002 CS to improve TYC adaptive management and continue the collaborative conservation identified in the 2002 CS.  In 2015, a revised CS was completed by TYC AMWG and the Executive Committee and provided conservation actions to avoid, minimize, or mitigate impacts to TYC populations and habitat.  The 2015 CS builds upon the earlier CS through a synthesis and expansion of TYC information.

Next time you are on the shores of Lake Tahoe, you may notice fences surrounding an area of the beach. These areas are TYC habitat, and the fences protect these delicate plants from trampling. By staying out of these enclosures, you can help ensure survival of TYC. Another place to take care is at stream inlets. When swimming or paddling near these sites, avoid coming to shore and potentially damaging this rare plant. The recovery of TYC was made possible by cooperation between land management agencies, conservation groups, private land owners, and the public. If everyone continues to work together to protect this uniquely Tahoe species, the future of the TYC is in good hands.

Tahoe Yellow Cress Adaptive Management Working Group Partners 

Check out our amazing partners that make TYC conservation possible! 

TRPA Logo TYC       USFWS Logo         CA state lands commission logo     CA State Parks Logo    CA Tahoe Conservancy Logo

     CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife       League to Save LT Logo    NV Natural Heritage Logo    NV Stateparks Logo    Tahoe Lakefront Owners Association Logo

NV Division of Forestry  Nevada Division of State Lands Logo  US Forest Service Shield

 

Environmental Documents, Publications, Reference Materials

News Release

Conservation Strategy 

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