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For Immediate Release, February 28, 2011

Contact: Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681

North Carolina's Golden Sedge Plant Receives Critical Habitat Protection

RALEIGH, N.C.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protected 202 acres of critical habitat in Onslow and Pender counties, N.C., today for the endangered golden sedge (Carex lutea). This final habitat designation is the result of a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity in 2007. Critical habitat is essential to the recovery of this highly localized, rare plant, which grows only on North Carolina’s coastal plain.

“This critical habitat designation is a lifeline for the golden sedge,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist with the Center. “Saving habitat for this rare and delicate species will make all the difference in saving it from extinction.”

Only eight populations of golden sedge are currently known, limited to an area within a two-mile radius of the Onslow/Pender County line in southeastern North Carolina. Threats to the plant’s existence include fire suppression; habitat alteration such as land conversion for residential, commercial or industrial development, mining, drainage for silviculture and agriculture, and highway expansion; and herbicide use along utility and highway rights-of-way.

Under the Endangered Species Act, federal agencies are prohibited from permitting, funding or carrying out projects that will damage critical habitat. By identifying areas essential to the survival and recovery of species, critical habitat also provides a road map for landowners and municipalities to use to avoid siting projects that harm endangered species. Critical habitat is a highly effective tool for helping rare species to survive; a study by the Center has shown that plants and animals with federally designated critical habitat are more than twice as likely to be recovering than those without it.

“Critical habitat is an essential tool for recovering endangered species, and we’re elated that this lovely North Carolina sedge and the places it grows are now fully protected,” said Curry.

The golden sedge was first described in 1991. It is a yellowish green, grass-like plant whose female flowers’ fertile spikes are bright yellow in color, giving the species its common name. It is only known to grow in sandy soils overlying coquina limestone deposits and in areas that have recently burned or been mown and are wet enough to prevent shrub establishment.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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