For Immediate Release
August 19, 1999

Contact: Tom MacKenzie


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public input on a draft revised plan to recover a perennial herb Heller's blazing star Porter, which was listed as threatened on November 19, 1987, on the federal list of endangered and threatened animals and plants.

Heller's blazing star blooms from July through September, producing a spike of lavender flowers 3 to 8 inches tall. The species grows only in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina on high-elevation cliffs, ledges, rock outcrops, and balds. There are eight populations remaining.

This species and many of its rare associates are extremely vulnerable to seemingly minor threats, such as trampling by hikers, climbers, and sightseers. More pervasive potential threats to the species include acid precipitation and other forms of atmospheric pollution that have been found to be concentrated at higher elevations in the Southern Appalachians. Residential and recreational development have eliminated or reduced populations at some locations.

A draft revised recovery plan describes actions considered necessary for the conservation of Heller's blazing star, establishes criteria for recognizing the recovery levels for downlisting or delisting the species, and estimates the time and cost for implementing the recovery measures needed. Major objectives of the recovery plan are to protect currently occupied habitat, restore historical habitat for reintroduction of the species, conduct applied research, and increase public awareness.

The Service will collect written comments on this recovery plan over the next 60 days. Copies of the plan can be obtained by writing to the State Supervisor, Asheville Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 160 Zillicoa Street, Asheville, North Carolina 28801, or by calling 828/258-3939.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management offices, and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.


release #: R99-072

1999 News Releases
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