Wednesday May 25th, 2016 3:16PM

Partnership helps keep southern plant off endangered status

By Alyson Shields Reporter
ATLANTA - Nine organizations have partnered together to protect a rare flower native to the southeast.

The Georgia Aster is bright purple and a relative of the sunflower. "It's special because it's rare, and it's rare due to, primarily, loss of habitat," said Dr. Mincy Moffett, a botanist for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Moffett said the flowers "don't like woody competition," such as trees and shrubs, and with less wild fire, there are less places for them to go. "Areas have become congested, full of vegetation over the years as wildfires have been excluded from the landscape."

The agreement between the nine organizations, including federal, state, private and public partners is designed to help keep the Georgia Aster from being added to a list of endangered plants.

"In lieu of listing the species, we've put together this thing called the Candidate Conservation Agreement, and the agreement says we're going to proactively do things to keep the Aster from becoming so rare that it needs to be listed [as endangered]," Moffett said.

The flower can be found in northeast Georgia on Wilson Shoals and Lake Russell wildlife management areas. It has also been spotted in Hall, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Banks, Habersham, Stephens, Dawson and White counties.
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