For Immediate Release, September 11, 2013
Contact: Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681
Rare Flower in Georgia, Alabama Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection
With 786 Acres of River Habitat
ATLANTA— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed today to protect a flower in Georgia and Alabama as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and to designate 786 acres of river bluff as “critical habitat” to protect the plant. The proposal to protect Georgia rockcress results from a landmark 2011 settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity to speed protection decisions on 757 imperiled plants and animals across the country.
“After 38 years on a waiting list, Georgia rockcress is finally getting its day in the sun,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist at the Center. “Endangered Species Act protection will help this beautiful white flower stick around to make future generations smile.”
The rockcress is a 3-foot-tall flower that grows on steep river bluffs. It was first identified as being in need of federal protection in 1975 and was designated as a candidate for protection in 1980. The Center petitioned for the plant’s protection in 2004.
The 18 surviving populations of rockcress are threatened by habitat degradation from development, logging, quarrying, camping, invasive species and hydropower dams. It only grows beneath mixed hardwood trees in areas with exposed rock outcroppings that allow for both sun and shade.
The proposed critical habitat is located in Gordon, Floyd, Harris, Muscogee, Chattahoochee and Clay counties in Georgia, and in Bibb, Dallas, Elmore, Monroe, Russell, Sumter and Wilcox counties in Alabama.
In 2011 the Center and the Fish and Wildlife Service reached a settlement to speed protections for all the species on the candidate waiting list as of 2010, as well as a host of other species previously petitioned for protection.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service is making great progress in addressing the backlog of plants and animals facing extinction,” said Curry. “Now Congress needs to designate sufficient funding for recovery to make sure these endangered species get what they need to thrive.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.