LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After nearly 30 years of conservation efforts, Kentucky’s white-haired goldenrod has been removed from a list of federally protected plants, officials said Friday.
The yellow fall-blooming perennial flower was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1988 after nearly disappearing from the Red River Gorge area of eastern Kentucky, which is the only place it grows.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Friday that a final decision to delist the plant came after a comprehensive review found it blooming in abundance.
A recovery plan for the goldenrod stated it should be considered for delisting when 40 geographically distinct, self-sustaining occurrences have been maintained for a decade. The statement says there are now 46 such occurrences. Officials plan to continue monitoring the plant.
Fish and Wildlife biologist Michael Floyd says the plant is “very unique,” in that it is found only under sandstone rock formations and never gets rained on.
After it was listed as threatened, Floyd said the U.S. Forest Service took action including a major education campaign with signs and kiosks that alerted hikers, campers and rock-climbers to steer clear. He said the Forest Service also diverted some trails and put up fencing around some areas, enabling these plant populations to flourish.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky State Nature Preserve Commission helped monitor the plant’s improvement over time.
“Restoring populations of threatened and endangered species, especially those with an extremely limited range, takes serious commitment and dedication from everyone involved,” said Tony Tooke, Regional Forester for the Forest Service’s Southern Region. “We’re pleased this partnership has allowed the white-haired goldenrod to not only bounce back but also thrive.”