Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Threats to this yellow-flowered shrub, currently known from only six colonies at two sites in the mountains of North Carolina, include lack of natural, recurrent fire regimes, which are necessary to maintain healthy growing conditions for the species, and trampling by hikers, campers, and rock climbers who use the area.
A 5-year controlled burning experiment showed that this species is fire-dependent. Prescribed burns in 1990, 1991, and 1992 resulted in increases in seedling production and size of mature plants. In the spring of 1990 and 1991, seeds were collected from the most tenuous populations. These seeds were germinated in greenhouses and returned to the parent populations in the fall of 1991, where an 83 percent survival rate was documented the following summer. One of the parent populations had declined to 8 surviving individuals before the seedling transplants, but this population is now up to 33 plants. Additional seeds have been collected and are being stored by the North Carolina Arboretum, a member garden of the Center for Plant Conservation.
Needed recovery actions include refining the use of fire to stimulate growth and reproduction, controlling recreational use of the most important habitat, and continuing seed collection and reintroduction of propagules into declining populations or at sites where the plants have been eliminated. Continued monitoring of all populations is also necessary.
In FY 1992, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture's Plant Conservation Program received $7,883 to monitor and manage the mountain golden heather at all occupied sites.
Forest Service: The Forest Service has management responsibility for the remaining mountain golden heather sites. In cooperation with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture's Plant Conservation Program, the Forest Service has carried out prescribed burns for the benefit of mountain golden heather and partially funded ongoing monitoring activities.
North Carolina Department of Agriculture's Plant Conservation Program: In addition to its section 6 activities, the Department has cooperated with the Service to establish permanent plots for this species, carry out annual monitoring, collect seeds and arrange for propagation and reintroduction of seedlings back into the wild, and provide technical assistance on prescribed burns.
North Carolina Arboretum: The North Carolina Arboretum has begun seed collection and propagation for the mountain golden heather.
Plan approved 9/14/83.