For Immediate Release, May 5, 2014

Contact: Tierra Curry (928) 522-3681

Kentucky Flower Gains Endangered Species Act Protection With 2,053 Acres of Protected Habitat

LOUISVILLE, Ky.— In accordance with a settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today protected Kentucky glade cress under the Endangered Species Act, along with 2,053 acres of critical habitat. The small flower with lilac or white petals is found only in Bullitt and Jefferson counties and nowhere else on Earth.

Kentucky glade cress
Photo by James Gruhala, USFWS. Photos are available for media use.

“This little wildflower is part of the rich natural heritage that makes Kentucky such a beautiful state,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center. “Protection for the Kentucky glade cress will ensure this lovely flower sticks around for future generations to enjoy.”

Today’s proposal is the result of a 2011 agreement between the Center and the Fish and Wildlife Service to speed endangered species protection decisions for 757 animals and plants around the country that are in danger of going extinct. So far 116 of those species have been fully protected, including this flower, and another 26 have been proposed for protection.

Kentucky glade cress was first identified as being in need of federal protection in 1975. In 2009 the Service placed it on the official candidate waiting list for Endangered Species Act protection and assigned it a high-priority number due to imminent threats to its habitat. Kentucky glade cress is threatened primarily by habitat loss due to population growth, suburban development and conversion of natural habitat to lawns in the Louisville metropolitan area. It is also threatened by grazing and off-road vehicle riding. Critical habitat protection for the plant will ensure that any activities that are federally funded or permitted do not harm the plant or the habitat it needs to survive.

“The Endangered Species Act has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the plants and animals under its care, so it’s fantastic news that this little Kentucky flower finally has the protection it needs to survive,” said Curry.

Kentucky glade cress grows in cedar glades, open areas within forests where the limestone bedrock is close to the surface and the soil is shallow. Cedar glade habitat is unique to the central eastern United States.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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