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Kentucky gladecress. Photo by Bryan Siders CC BY 2.0.

Service lists Kentucky gladecress and designates Critical Habitat

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is listing Kentucky glade cress as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The winter annual only exists in Jefferson and Bullitt Counties in Kentucky, where the Service also is designating critical habitat for the plant.

A small plant with a white to lilac-colored flower, Kentucky glade cress needs sunny areas with green, leafy vegetation that are wet in late winter to early spring, but then dry quickly.  It grows in areas with flat, thin soil, such as cedar glades. Natural areas surrounding the glades that are protected from disturbance are critical to maintaining the plant’s habitat.

Within Bullitt and Jefferson counties, residential and commercial development and associated activities (grading, paving, sod farms) destroyed and/or degraded the plant’s natural glade habitats and have left the majority of known occurrences in moderately to severely degraded sites, such as roadside rock outcrops, lawns, and heavily grazed pastures. The few remaining natural glade populations are privately owned, unprotected, and severely threatened by the same development pressures that degraded or destroyed other habitats for Kentucky glade cress. The exceptions are Apple Valley Glade and Pine Creek Barrens, which are in conservation ownership by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission and The Nature Conservancy, respectively.

In total, the Service is designating about 2,053 acres as critical habitat for the Kentucky glade cress. This includes six units containing occupied habitat: 18 acres within the McNeely Lake critical habitat unit; 1,014 acres within the three subunits that comprise the Old Mans Run critical habitat unit; 42 acres within the four subunits that comprise the Mount Washington critical habitat unit; 547 acres within eight subunits that comprise the Cedar Creek critical habitat unit; 58 acres within the two subunits that comprise the Cox Creek critical habitat unit and 374 acres within the Rocky Run critical habitat unit.

The public may view materials concerning this final rule at, using the docket numbers FWS–R4–ES–2013–0069 (listing) and FWS-R4-ES-2013-0015 (critical habitat). The listing goes into effect on June 5, 2014, 30 days following its publication in the Federal Register.

Although some of the areas within this plant’s critical habitat designation are located on private land, activities on these lands will not be affected, unless activities on these lands are authorized, funded, or carried out by a federal agency. Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge, reserve, preserve, or other conservation area. If federal funds are involved in a project in the area, the government agency involved will need to consult with the Service to help landowners avoid, reduce, or mitigate potential impacts to the plant or to ensure actions do not negatively affect the Kentucky glade cress or modify its critical habitat.

The Service conducted an economic analysis of the glade cress’ critical habitat designation. Notification of this analysis was published in the Federal Register on January 6, 2014. The analysis concluded the economic impacts of the proposed designation are likely to range from $400 to $9,000 per consultation. Based on feedback from several federal agencies, the number of future consultations is likely to be under a dozen per year throughout the entire range of the plant. Critical habitat is not likely to generate additional consultations and in circumstances where consultation does occur, additional project modifications beyond what is required to avoid jeopardizing the glade cress are unlikely.

An economic analysis estimates the cost of consultations with the Service when a federal agency does work in an area designated as critical habitat, or funds or permits work done by others. Federal, state, and local government agencies and some projects may incur costs for work involving federal funding or a federal permit. The estimate does not include any costs incurred as a result of the proposed listing.

The Service published proposals in the Federal Register to list the glade cress as threatened and designate critical habitat for it on May 23, 2013.  At that time, the Service opened a 60-day public comment period and requested information on distribution, status, population size or trends, life history, and threats to this plant. With the species listed under the ESA, the Service will continue to work cooperatively with partners to develop a recovery plan and conserve its habitat. The listing and designation of critical habitat for this plant 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. The intent of the agreement is to significantly reduce a litigation-driven workload.

The Service offers willing landowners a number of voluntary and non-regulatory conservation programs to help the glade cress survive as they live and work on their lands.  Landowners interested in helping the Service recover the Kentucky glade cress, or seeking more information about the implications of the listing and critical habitat designation, please contact the Service’s Kentucky Field Office at 330 W. Broadway, Suite 265, Frankfort, Kentucky, 40601, or contact Jennifer Garland at 502695-0468 ext. 115, or via e-mail at

Additional Resources


Phil Kloer, USFWS, 404-679-7299

Lee Andrews, Jr., USFWS, (502) 695-0468, ext. 108

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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