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For Immediate Release, March 10, 2010

Contact:  Ileene Anderson, Center for Biological Diversity, (323) 654-5943

Golden Sedge to Receive Habitat Protection

RALEIGH, N.C.— Responding to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed designation of 189 acres of critical habitat in Onslow and Pender Counties, North Carolina, for the endangered golden sedge (Carex lutea). Critical habitat is essential to allow for recovery of this highly localized, rare plant.

“This proposal is a lifeline for the golden sedge,” said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Protecting critical habitat for this rare and delicate species will give it a chance for survival and recovery.”

Only eight populations of golden sedge are known today, 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.

“The only way to ensure the survival of the golden sedge is to protect the places where it lives,” said Anderson.

Under the Endangered Species Act, federal agencies are prohibited from permitting, funding, or carrying out projects that will adversely modify (i.e. hurt) 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 in the recovery of rare species; 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 should give the sedge a chance at survival,” added Anderson.

The golden sedge a yellowish green, grass-like plant whose fertile spikes of the female flowers are bright yellow in color, giving the species its common name of sulphur or golden sedge. 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.

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