On August 31, 2015, RRGCC Executive Director, Bill Strachan, attended a ceremony at the Gladie Visitor Center where the proposed delisting of the white-haired goldenrod as an endangered species was announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This unique flowering plant is found only in rock shelters and under overhanging ledges in Red River Gorge. When listed in 1988, impacts from recreational activities such as rock climbing, hiking, camping, and rappelling; the looting of archaeological sites; and the proposed construction of a flood control dam downstream of the Gorge were seen as threats to the survival of the white-haired goldenrod. To protect the species the Forest Service fenced off rock shelters where the plant was found. The RRGCC, under the direction of its founder and first Executive Director, Shannon Stuart-Smith, helped to place signage at the fenced off areas and at kiosks installed at Miguel’s Pizza and at the Martins Fork trailhead to educate climbers and others about what the plant looks like and the importance of staying out of the fenced areas. Maintenance of kiosk signage and the inclusion of educational information about plant in the Red River Gorge climbing guidebooks continued to be promoted by the RRGCCunder Strachan’s direction.
The efforts of the U.S. Forest Service, the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, and the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife Resources along with the RRGCC involvement in helping to protect the white-haired goldenrod and allow for the successful recovery of the species were recognized during the ceremony. At the event the RRGCC Executive Director had the opportunity to meet and speak with the U.S. Forest Service, Southern Region, Regional Forester, Tony Tooke; the new Daniel Boone National Forest, Forest Supervisor, Bill Lorenz; and the new Cumberland District Ranger, Jonathon Kazmierski. Following the ceremony Strachan and others in attendance hiked to view a rock shelter where fencing had been placed to protect both biological and cultural resources. The white-haired goldenrod will be the first Kentucky species and the 31st nationwide to be removed from the endangered species list since the passage of the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973.