Bringing a plant back from extinction 

Mark Frey, an ecologist with the Presidio Trust, helped lead the efforts to transplant the Franciscan manzanita — a plant formerly thought to be extinct in the wild for 70 years — away from a planned construction site of the Doyle Drive rebuild.

How was the Franciscan manzanita discovered? Caltrans removed many trees as part of its construction work and an area was cleared out that was formerly surrounded on all sides by highways. My colleague, Dan Gluesenkamp, happened to be driving by that area and thought he spotted the manzanita. We ran down and checked it out, and discovered that it was indeed the manzanita plant.

Can you describe the efforts to transport the plant out of the construction zone? We had tree-moving experts called in and they built a massive trench and used a crane to lift the plant out of the ground. We wrapped the roots in a burlap bag, put it in the back of an 18-wheeler, and transported the plant to a safe location.

How big is the plant? The material we moved weighed 10 tons. It was a piece of earth roughly 10 feet wide by 12 feet long by 3 feet deep. The actual plant is only about 2 feet tall, but it takes up a lot of surface underground.

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Will Reisman

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