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A bright white flower similar to a hydrangea emerges from a leafy green plant
Information icon Running buffalo clover. Photo by USFWS.

Eastern plant once thought extinct now recovered: federal protection no longer needed

Service proposes to remove running buffalo clover from list of endangered species

Once thought extinct, running buffalo clover, a perennial plant native to parts of the eastern United States, is thriving and is now considered recovered. The change in status for the clover came about thanks to a number of state, federal and private conservation partners working together for over three decades. Because of their efforts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now proposing to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the species.

“Running buffalo clover has recovered because we’ve worked closely with our partners to ensure the plant’s habitat is conserved while also searching for new populations,” said Service Acting Midwest Regional Director Charlie Wooley. “Our efforts have paid off, and we believe the future of this plant is secure.”

Publication of the Service’s proposal in the Federal Register on August 27, 2019, begins a 60-day comment period, during which the agency is seeking any new information about the species.

Once found in nine states, running buffalo clover was believed extinct prior to 1983, when one population was found in West Virginia. The Service listed running buffalo clover as endangered in 1987. Since then, additional populations have been discovered, and the plant is now found in 154 populations in Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Of the known populations, 83 are on public lands or privately owned lands with conservation agreements.

Running buffalo clover is named for the stolons, or runners, that extend from the base of its stems. The plant requires periodic disturbance and somewhat open habitat, but it cannot tolerate full sun, full shade or severe disturbance. Historically, it was often found in the rich soils between open forests and prairies probably maintained by grazing herds of bison. Today it is associated with areas where mowing, cattle grazing, trampling, logging or other moderate ground disturbance occurs.

The Service is accepting comments on the proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protections through October 28, 2019. Following the comment period, the agency will evaluate all information before making a final decision. Read the Service’s proposed rule and obtain information on how to submit comments.

Learn more about this species and the recovery effort.


Georgia Parham, Public affairs specialist, (812) 334-4261 x203

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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