Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 31, 2015

Contact:  Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681,
Jim Scheff, (859) 334-0602,

 Kentucky Flower Becomes Endangered Species Act Success

White-haired Goldenrod Story Shows Tourism,
Endangered Species Can Coexist in Daniel Boone National Forest

LEXINGTON, Ky.— Demonstrating the success of the Endangered Species Act, there was an announcement today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the white-haired goldenrod, a flower found only in the Red River Gorge area of Wolfe, Powell and Menifee counties, Ky., and nowhere else on Earth, has recovered. The flower was federally protected in 1988 due to trampling from recreationists in the popular area. Since the plant was protected, agencies have fenced off populations and installed signs to educate visitors about the vulnerable plant; new populations have been discovered.

White-haired goldenrod
Photo by Thomas Barnes, USFWS. This photo is available for media use.

“It’s welcome news that a unique piece of Kentucky’s natural heritage has been safeguarded from extinction. Thanks to the effective protection of the Endangered Species Act, this little wildflower will be around for future generations to enjoy,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, which tracks the status of endangered species across the nation.

The Service will continue to monitor the plant’s status to make sure that it remains healthy, as it is still threatened by recreation and by global climate change and invasive plants. Most of the plant’s range is on the Daniel Boone National Forest, so recreational impacts remain an overarching concern. Visitation to the Daniel Boone is heavily concentrated in the Red River Gorge area, which is experiencing a continually increasing level of recreational use; local groups like Kentucky Heartwood are encouraging the Forest Service to develop more areas elsewhere in the Daniel Boone for recreation to lighten the visitor impacts to the Red River Gorge.

“The Daniel Boone National Forest has a variety of scenic areas and the Forest Service and the state need to devote funds to develop trails and campgrounds in other locations, like McCreary and Pulaski counties, so that visitor impacts aren’t so concentrated in the Gorge,” said Jim Scheff, director of Kentucky Heartwood. “Kentucky could really benefit by capitalizing on our outstanding natural beauty, and focusing more resources on economic growth through ecotourism and outdoor recreation instead of logging, mining and gas development.”

Nationally the outdoor recreation industry accounts for $646 billion in spending annually, supports more than 6 million direct jobs, and generates $80 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues.

The Daniel Boone National Forest’s recreation budget has dropped four years in a row to only $1.2 million, or just 33 percent of the recreational funding levels assumed in the 2004 forest management plan. The Forest Service has reported a $4 million maintenance backlog at existing recreational sites, and has insufficient resources to manage existing trail systems and other recreational use. Meanwhile the Daniel Boone’s timber program remains fully funded but continues to lose an average of $840,000 annually selling federal timber, according to an analysis of Forest Service data by Kentucky Heartwood. Those data show that from 2005 through 2013, the Forest Service spent $9.7 million on timber management, but received only $3.8 million in revenue from timber sold.

“The Daniel Boone National Forest provides just 0.4 percent of the timber harvested in Kentucky, but could generate millions of dollars for the state in outdoor visitation if it were managed to make resource protection and ecotourism a higher priority,” said Curry.

“While the success in protecting the white-haired goldenrod is a great example of effective management by the U.S. Forest Service and cooperating agencies,” said Scheff, “we need to recognize that there is a real funding crisis threatening the viability of both at-risk species and sustainable economic development through outdoor recreation.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Kentucky Heartwood seeks to protect and restore the integrity, stability, and beauty of Kentucky’s native forests and biotic communities through research, education, advocacy, and non-violent intervention.

Go back