FWS Delists Cumberland Sandwort Under the ESA
FWS Delists Cumberland Sandwort Under the ESA

On Monday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a final rule delisting the now-recovered Cumberland sandwort (Arenaria cumberlandensis) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Originally listed as endangered in 1988, the Cumberland sandwort is a perennial plant species occurring in cave-like “rockhouses” or bluff sites throughout northern Tennessee and southern Kentucky.  In 1996, the FWS released a recovery plan for the species.  By December of 2013, the FWS recommended downlisting the Cumberland sandwort to threatened status, and in April of 2020, the agency proposed delisting the species.  

In the Federal Register notice announcing the final rule, the FWS indicates that, based on a review of the best available data, the Cumberland sandwort has recovered. According to the FWS, threats to the species identified at the time of listing—including timber harvesting, trampling by recreational users, and digging for artifacts—have been sufficiently reduced and no longer pose a threat to the species.  Additionally, the FWS notes that, since the time of listing, the species’ known range, abundance, and resiliency levels have increased.  The FWS posits that implementation of conservation efforts and management plans to prevent habitat destruction or removal of plants contributed to the species’ recovery.  Further, the FWS predicts that the effects of climate change and other stressors will not cause the species to become endangered in the foreseeable future.  As such, FWS determined that the Cumberland sandwort no longer meets the definition of an endangered or threatened species under the ESA.

The final rule is set to take effect on September 15, 2021.

  • Samantha  Savoni

    Sam Savoni focuses her practice on a variety of environmental and land use matters, including those dealing with the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, National Historic Preservation Act ...

Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.

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