Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 24, 2020


Stephanie Kurose, (202) 849-8395,

Southeastern Flower Recovers in Latest Endangered Species Act Success Story

Cumberland Sandwort Rebounds After Habitat Protection, Management

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the recovery of the Cumberland sandwort, a small, white flowering plant primarily found in the Big South Fork National Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. As a result of this recovery, the Service is proposing to remove Endangered Species Act protections for the plant.

“Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, this delicate little flower has made quite the comeback,” said Stephanie Kurose, an endangered species policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This amazing success story is proof that the Act works and shows why it remains one of the most popular laws among the American people.”

When the Cumberland sandwort was first listed under the Act in 1988, the primary threats to the flower were habitat destruction from recreational users and timber harvesting. Today, based on successful conservation efforts like protecting habitat from logging and putting up signs and fencing at sites that were being affected, the Cumberland sandwort has increased in number and range.

Once the proposal is finalized, the plant will be the 47th species delisted for recovery in the United States — one of 23 in the past five years. Although the Trump administration has moved forward with delisting several species, it has failed to protect additional imperiled species. So far Trump officials have listed just 21 species under the Endangered Species Act, the lowest of any administration at this point in its presidential term.

“As the world faces an unprecedented extinction crisis, the Endangered Species Act is often the last hope for species like the Cumberland sandwort,” said Kurose. “If we want more species to recover, we must do more upfront to protect our nation’s most vulnerable animals and plants.”

The Cumberland sandwort grows in sandy soils that form the floors of “rockhouses” —cave-like dwellings made of sandstone. It is particularly vulnerable to changes in its environment such as different humidity, temperature or light levels.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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