A flowering plant found in three Central Kentucky counties has been listed as an endangered species and had critical habitats identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Short's bladderpod received a "critical habitat designation" that includes tracts in Clark, Franklin and Woodford counties, and property in one Indiana county and seven counties in Tennessee. The designation, which covers 926 acres in those 11 counties, becomes final Sept. 25, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday.
The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, which first petitioned the service to protect the plants in 2004, said in a release that Short's bladderpod is a yellow flower in the mustard family that is threatened by highway right-of-way construction and maintenance, flooding and water-level fluctuation, overstory shading and competition with nonnative plants.
The plant grows to almost 2 feet tall and lives near rivers on steep, rocky, wooded slopes.
While the critical habitat designation is intended to identify "areas that are essential to conserving" the plants, it does not allow the government to access or create a conservation area on private land, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. It does require federal agencies to ensure that any project they fund, authorize or carry out does not adversely affect the habitat.
The service offers voluntary conservation programs to landowners interested in helping the plants survive on their property.