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A grass like plant with a large geometric shaped bulb.
Information icon Golden sedge (Carex lutea) growing next to a pond cypress tree in Pender County, NC. Photo by Dale Suiter, USFWS.

Recovery plan for endangered golden sedge available

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing the availability of the final recovery plan for golden sedge, a perennial plant federally listed as endangered.

All of the eight known populations, incorporating 21 known sites, of this plant are in eastern North Carolina’s Northeast Cape Fear River watershed in Pender and Onslow Counties.

“The golden sedge recovery plan provides direction and steps the Service and its partners can take to recover this plant,” said Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director.  “We are working with North Carolina Botanical Garden, The North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Duke Energy, the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, and the Nature Conservancy on several efforts to benefit the sedge.  In fact, the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program is a co-author of the recovery plan.”

The Recovery Plan for the Golden Sedge (Carex lutea) describes actions necessary for the sedge’s recovery, establishes criteria for downlisting the plant to threatened status and delisting it,  and estimates the time and cost for implementing the needed recovery actions.

According to the recovery plan, golden sedge will be considered for downlisting from endangered to threatened when, along with other criteria identified in the plan, 10 protected, wild populations exist across the plant’s range,  and these populations are stable or increasing for at least five consecutive years.  The golden sedge will be considered for delisting when, along with other criteria identified in the plan, 15 protected, wild populations exist across the plant’s range, and these populations are stable or increasing for at least 10 consecutive years.

To view the recovery plan on the web, please visit  Request a paper copy of the plan by contacting the Service’s Raleigh, North Carolina, Ecological Services Field Office at 919- 856-4520, ext. 18.

Golden sedge is found in wet pine savanna habitat (equivalent to longleaf pine forest) in the transition zones between wet savannas and hardwood forests and in wet soils in or near shallow drainage ditches.  It is found in open to sparse canopy, patchy shrub layer, and dense herb cover habitat.

Management and monitoring of the sedge’s known sites are essential to this sedge’s survival.  Threats to the golden sedge include habitat changes caused by fire suppression, conversion of limited habitat for residential, commercial, or industrial development, highway and utility expansion, and wetland drainage activities associated with forestry, agricultural, and development projects.  In addition, roadside and utility right of way populations can be wiped out by herbicide treatments.A total of 17 golden sedge sites are already in conservation ownership, and as such are protected from these threats. However, four of the sites are on private lands where threats to the species still persist.

Several organizations are working with the Service to help recover the golden sedge. Some examples of recovery activities discussed in the recovery plan include an effort by the North Carolina Botanical Garden to collect golden sedge seeds from several populations.  It is working on seed storage and germination protocols and has set up long term monitoring of plots at 10 golden sedge sites since 2010.  Initial monitoring will continue through 2014.  In addition, a management plan was prepared for six golden sedge subpopulations in State parks.  The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources has conservation and management agreements with Duke Energy, which has agreed to not use herbicides and not mow during critical growth periods for rare species.

Other sites are protected as Dedicated Nature Preserves.  These agreements are permanently binding documents, endorsed by the State of North Carolina and the landowner that set aside outstanding natural areas of high biodiversity and conservation value as nature preserves.  The North Carolina Natural Heritage Program is negotiating with the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation to designate golden sedge populations at Watkins Savanna, Sandy Run Savannas, and The Neck Savanna as Dedicated Nature Preserves.  In addition, The Nature Conservancy is working with local landowners to protect parcels of land that contain the golden sedge and other rare species or parcels that would facilitate management of rare plant sites already in conservation ownership.

More photos of the golden sedge are available here on the Southeast Region Flickr


Phil Kloer, USFWS

Dale Suiter
919-856-4520, ext. 18

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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