Recovery Plan Update for Torreya taxifolia
October 2018 Barlow Comments

RE: Torreya Guardians submits information for 5-year review T. taxifolia

[FWS–R4–ES–2018–N057; FXES11130900000C2–189–FF09E32000]
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 5-Year Status Reviews for 42 Southeastern Species
DATE: 17 October 2018

TO:, Vivian Negron-Ortiz

CC: Donald Imm , Catherine Phillips

Vivian -

(Please send me a reply now that you received this official email from me; you can read it later.)

I just noticed on the species profile page of USF&WS for Torreya taxifolia that on 6 August 2018 the Federal Register published a notice of a 5-year review. The publication said that the deadline for submission of information was October 5.

I apologize that I missed the deadline. Please accept the following webpages from our Torreya Guardians website as vital scientific / natural-history / recovery success information for your review.


1. "Historic Groves of Torreya Trees"

There you will find our best work in explaining (and linking) to data collected by Torreya Guardians that documents (1) Torreya's ability to thrive, be disease-free, and even reproduce in locales north of Georgia; and (2) strong evidence that, while Torreya is able to "naturalize" (produce viable seed and establish seedlings from that seed, with no human assistance) it is decidedly not invasive. Thus, the two thresholds (unmet at the time of the 2010 plan update) for official adoption of "assisted migration" have been met.

2. "What We Are Learning"

Make sure you see the image-rich entries for 2018, which include documentation of 22 seeds being produced in Cleveland Ohio. Watch the linked Cleveland video (14 minutes) to see how extraordinarily well this tree adapts on its windward side. The only assistance this group of 3 seed-grown trees receives is (a) mowing to ensure no shade will overtop the torreyas, (b) deer repellent sacks, (c) fencing during buck season to prevent antler rubbing. Also, see the November 2017 entry and watch the "free-planting" success of our new Cumberland Plateau volunteer (400 seeds put directly into his forest).

3. "Recent Papers on Stem Canker"

My understanding is that the Torreya Symposium announcement/press-release by University of Florida (Jason Smith's lab) that genetic engineering will be applied to Torreya taxifolia is contrary to USF&WS rules that the public will have an opportunity to comment on "recovery" actions before they are implemented. Therefore, please allocate time for me (as a very informed member of the public, and possibly a credentialed scientist I may recruit to speak) to present the advisory committee with what I have gleaned from reading the 5 papers on which Smith bases his assessment that Fusarium sp. is dangerous for Torreya taxifolia specimens northward of Georgia. I believe the papers themselves demonstrate that his verbal portrayal of the disease threat to species recovery is overstated. In fact, I believe our findings and actions are so valuable that T. taxifolia can soon be delisted. For a preview of my scientific arguments against the canker as lethal in northward realms, please visit the section on the Endangered webpage where I link, extract, and critique all 5 papers:


1. ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR TORREYA TAXIFOLIA. Please add me to your e-list for receiving whatever communications you routinely send to your science advisors and area "stakeholders." All citizens in the USA are stakeholders for endangered species. We Torreya Guardians have demonstrated our concern and care for this tree.

2. INFORM ADVISORS OF GLACIAL RELICT HISTORY. If there is any science advisor or stakeholder who is still unaware that Torreya taxifolia is a glacial relict, please refer them to the "Natural History" page of our website: There you will see that we recently added images and excerpts from a pair of 1905 papers written by two famous botanists (Cowles and Coulter) that demonstrate that Torreya taxifolia has been regarded as a glacial relict since 1905.

3. DOCUMENT AND POST 2018 SEED PRODUCTION AT EX SITU LOCATIONS (and eventually their ultimate distributions too). As you know, I launched a Freedom of Information Data Request this year, whose results documented that the two institutional caretakers of the ex situ T. taxifolia plantings in north Georgia have not documented annual seed production at those sites and the fate of those seeds. In my view this is a grave loss of what should have been easily collectible data for assessing the thrival and reproductive potential of this species when translocated from Florida to the southern Appalachians of north Georgia. Please urge those institutional implementers (Atlanta Botanical Garden and University of Georgia State Botanical Garden) to provide USF&WS with documentation of this year's seed production so that you can post it on your records page and for them to also post it on the Center for Plant Conservation site.

Note: I have posted all correspondence re my FOIA data request: Please make sure you read the August 29 entry: "Barlow's Closing Statement".

4. PLEASE READ MY PUBLIC COMMENT re ESA REGULATIONS REVISION. The link to my comment is here: Pay special attention to Part 3 of that comment:

Part 3: Torreya-Specific Insights and Recommendations
3A End wastage of seeds in ex situ plantings - strong recommendation

3B Establish policy on genetic engineering - strong recommendation

3C Host a seminar - strong recommendation

Thank you for your attention,

Connie Barlow, Founder of Torreya Guardians


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