Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 7, 2016

Contact:  Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495,
Jim Scheff, Kentucky Heartwood, (859) 334-0602,

Kentucky Flower Becomes Latest Endangered Species Act Success

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

LEXINGTON, Ky.— In the latest Endangered Species Act success story, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today declared that Kentucky’s white-haired goldenrod has recovered, and has removed it from the endangered species list. The flower, found only in the Red River Gorge area of Wolfe, Powell and Menifee counties in Kentucky, was federally protected in 1988 due to trampling from recreationists. Once it was protected by the Endangered Species Act, the plant’s few remaining populations were fenced off and signs were erected to educate visitors about the vulnerable plant.

“This is a great day for the Endangered Species Act and Kentucky’s unique natural heritage,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The survival of this beautiful little wildflower is a reminder that we can save even our most imperiled plants and animals when we’re willing to use the remarkable tools provided by the Act, which has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of protected species.”

The Service will continue to monitor the ongoing recovery of the plant, which remains threatened by recreation, global climate change and invasive plants. Most of the plant’s range is on the Daniel Boone National Forest, so recreational impacts remain a concern. Conservation groups like Kentucky Heartwood are encouraging the U.S. Forest Service to develop more recreation areas in the national forest for recreation to lessen visitor impacts to the Red River Gorge.

“The recovery of this flower from the brink of extinction is great news, but the work isn’t done,” said Jim Scheff, director of Kentucky Heartwood. “For the recovery to continue, the Forest Service and the state must continue to develop new trails and campgrounds that allow our growing number of eco-tourists to appreciate Kentucky’s natural beauty without harming it.”

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.

“While we all celebrate the success in protecting the white-haired goldenrod, we must recognize the ongoing need to do a better job of funding conservation efforts,” said Scheff. “Otherwise the funding crisis will continue to threaten at-risk species and the growing sustainable economic development provided by outdoor recreation.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million 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.

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