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Rare Plants Near Murfreesboro, Tennessee now Protected by State


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 10, 2004

Contact:
Amanda Sluss, TDEC, 615/532-0288
Tim Merritt, USFWS Cookeville, 931/528-6481, Ext. 211
Tom MacKenzie, USFWS, 404/679-7291



Nashville, TN: One of only three known populations of the federally and state-listed endangered plant, Pyne's ground-plum, is now protected thanks to a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Division of Natural Heritage and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Through a $23,200 federal Recovery Land Acquisition (RLA) grant matched with $75,000 in state funding, a 15-acre tract of land near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, that contains the rare plant is now in state ownership and will be managed to help ensure the species’ continued survival.

"We are pleased to be able to partner with the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the habitat of this globally rare plant species," said Reggie Reeves, director of TDEC's Division of Natural Heritage. "Funding provided to the state under the Endangered Species Act has proven to be the most consistent and effective means of conserving rare species through a range of conservation based activities including life history studies, field inventories, writing and implementing recovery plans, habitat management, land acquisition and establishing new populations. Without the Act and the funding it provides it is doubtful that we would be able to accomplish much toward the recovery of rare species."

Another population of the ground plum has been protected at nearby Flat Rock Cedar Glade and Barrens State Natural Area, owned and managed jointly by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and TDEC.

“Pyne's ground-plum is known to occur only in Rutherford County and nowhere else in the world,” said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director of the USFWS. “Protecting one-third of the species' total habitat that harbors a healthy population of 250 to 300 plants will be a great step toward its recovery.”

In addition, two new populations of Pyne's ground-plum have been introduced. One population has been established at Stone's River National Battlefield through a cooperative project involving the National Park Service, USFWS, Missouri Botanical Garden and TDEC's Division of Natural Heritage. The efforts to establish this new population, as well as new populations of the federally-endangered Tennessee Coneflower, led to a 185-acre portion of the battlefield being designated as a state natural area in 2003. A second population has been established at Sunnybell Cedar Glade State Natural Area through a cooperative project involving TNC, Missouri Botanical Garden and TDEC's State Natural Areas Program. Sunnybell Cedar Glade, owned by The Nature Conservancy, was designated as a state natural area in 1995.

The Southeast Region of the USFWS awarded almost $5 million in grants to Southeastern state agencies in 2002 under the RLA Grants Program. This program is part of the Cooperative Endangered Species Fund for grants to states that is authorized under the Endangered Species Act.

The RLA Grants Program provides funding to states for acquisitions of habitat that support approved recovery plans for federally-listed species. This program addresses one of the primary threats to federally-listed plants and animals nationwide - the loss of habitat - by protecting habitat important to the recovery of federally listed species.

The proposals submitted under the RLA Grants Program were evaluated in a competitive regional review process. Nationally, over $17 million in funding to states was available through the program. This funding is one of several ways the USFWS works in partnership with states to conserve federally-listed and other declining species.

Tennessee was one of only four Southeastern states to receive one of the competitive RLA grants in 2002 and 2003. The TDEC received funding in 2001 to acquire habitat for the federally-listed endangered Tennessee coneflower at Couchville Cedar Glade State Natural Area in Davidson County, a plant that occurs in a small area of Rutherford, Wilson, and Davidson Counties and nowhere else in the world. The 2003 grant will aid in the recovery of the Pyne's ground-plum. Acquiring the site under this project will protect not only the second of three known wild populations of the Pyne's ground-plum but also a unique and rare community type, a pristine cedar glade, containing several other state listed plant species.


click here for 300 dpi Pyne's ground plum
Click on photo above for a
300 dpi Pyne's ground-plum


For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at http://southeast.fws.gov/ or http://www.fws.gov/.



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