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Agencies Conserve Imperiled Species in Eastern Kentucky; Propose delisting for one plant, and positive steps for a darter

August 31, 2015

Green leafy vegetation with bright yellow flowers climbs a rock face.

White-haired goldenrod. Photo: John MacGregor, KY Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Stanton, Ky. – State and Federal conservation agencies came together here today to celebrate partnerships that are delivering conservation successes in eastern Kentucky.

After more than two decades of collaboration and conservation work in the Daniel Boone National Forest, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove the white-haired goldenrod – a plant unique to eastern Kentucky – from the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Daniel Boone National Forest and the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission played leading roles in the white-haired goldenrod’s recovery. White-haired goldenrod is only found in sandstone rock shelters or on sandstone cliffs with overhanging ledges in the Red River Gorge region of eastern Kentucky. When the plant was listed as threatened in 1988, threats included the loss of habitat due to recreational activities such as rock climbing, hiking, camping, and rappelling; artifact collection; and a proposed reservoir project.

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Turtle-egg Thief Convicted a Secont Time for Stealing Nested Sea Turtle Eggs from Coastal Georgia Island

August 28, 2015

A sign describing protections afforded to Loggerhead nesting areas

Loggerhead protections. Photo: MWMS1916; CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

BRUNSWICK, GEORGIA- Lewis Jackson, 60, of Brunswick, Georgia pled guilty today before Chief United States District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to stealing loggerhead sea turtle eggs in violation of the Lacey Act. Among other things, the Lacey Act makes it unlawful for any person to acquire, receive and transport loggerhead sea turtle eggs, as loggerheads are endangered species under federal law. Back in 2013, Jackson was convicted a first time for stealing turtle eggs, and was sentenced to serve 6 months in prison. Jackson was on federal supervised release when he was caught stealing turtle eggs for the second time.

According to evidence presented during today’s guilty plea hearing, on July 6, 2015, a Wildlife Technician with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Sea Turtle Program discovered that 84 loggerhead sea turtle eggs from a nest on Sapelo Island, Georgia were missing. Law enforcement determined that one of the visitors to the island that day was Jackson, who had stolen over 150 loggerhead turtle eggs in 2012. The next day, on July 7, Jackson was arrested trying to leave the island with a cooler full of sea turtle eggs. Jackson appeared to have wrapped the eggs with the intent to sell them. Loggerhead eggs now fetch as much as $25 per egg on the black market. Because of Jackson’s handling of the turtle eggs, they were no longer viable and were therefore destroyed. Sea turtles are long-lived and slow to reach maturity. Pressures from the illegal harvesting of eggs and the poaching of adults worsen the extinction risk faced by these animals. In Georgia, the loggerhead sea turtle is listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act and is the most common sea turtle which nests on Sapelo Island.

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Reintroduction of Florida Semaphore Cactus to Florida Keys

August 25, 2015

A bright green cactus grows out of a rocky outcrop

Florida semaphor cactus. Photo: Dave Bender, USFWS

David Bender is the type of guy who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, in fact, he wants to - - as long as plants are involved, particularly those that are threatened or endangered.

In May 2014, Bender, a botanist with the South Florida Ecological Services Office, traveled to Crocodile Lake and Key Deer National Wildlife Refuges in the Florida Keys with co-workers Anthony Sowers and Brian Powell to plant 350 Florida semaphore cacti.

“We chose the refuges because public federal lands, especially national wildlife refuges and national parks, offer the best protection for listed plants,” Bender said.

Due to concerns about storm surge and sea level rise, their strategy was to plant the cacti in areas of higher elevation in suitable habitat that gets enough sunlight. In addition, they wanted to plant them in areas where there’s not too much human traffic.

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Service Announces Critical Habitat Designations for Florida Brickell-Bush and Carter’s Small-Flowered Flax

August 14, 2015

A small yellow flower blooming on a hearty stem

Carter's small-flowered flax. Photo: Keith Bradley

VERO BEACH, Fla. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing critical habitat designations for two plants found only in South Florida: the Florida brickell-bush and Carter’s small-flowered flax. Both were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act on October 4, 2014. The critical habitat for both plants is located in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Both plants only are found on the Miami Rock Ridge in South Florida. The critical habitat designations for these two plants largely overlap, for a combined total of about 2,706 acres. The plants’ critical habitat designations include land in pine rockland habitat on the Miami Rock Ridge, outside of Everglades National Park, in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Areas within the designations include occupied and unoccupied, but suitable, habitat within the plants’ historical ranges.

These two pine rockland plants had been candidates for federal listing since 1999. The listing of these plants with critical habitat and the associated economic analysis are part of the Service’s efforts to implement a court-approved work plan aimed at addressing a series of lawsuits concerning the agency’s ESA listing program. To learn more about the Service’s work plan for 2015, please visit

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Questions and Answers

Fish and Wildlife Service Announces $37.2 Million in Grants to Boost State Endangered Species Conservation Efforts
AL, AR, FL, NC, TN Receive Funding in Southeast

August 13, 2015

Three winged mapleleaf mussels in hand

Winged mapleleaf mussels can be found in the Saline river, AR; photo: Sarah Sorenson, USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced $37.2 million in grants to 20 states to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered species across the nation. The grants, awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, will benefit numerous species, ranging from the Cahaba shiner to the red-cockaded woodpecker.

Five southeasterm states received a combined total of $4,112,981 in grants - - Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Project descriptions are listed below. For a nationwide list of the 2015 grant awards under these programs visit the Endangered Species grants website.

“Private landowners and natural resource managers play a vital role in conserving our nation’s most imperiled wildlife,”said Service Director Dan Ashe. “By cultivating partnerships between federal, state and local governments, private organizations and individuals, we can establish creative and effective solutions to some of the greatest conservation challenges of our time. These grants are one of many tools available under the Endangered Species Act, and we look forward to providing continued guidance and support for these programs.”

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Last updated: August 31, 2015