|For Immediate Release
October 14, 1998
Contact: Tom MacKenzie
GEORGIA-PACIFIC UNIT, U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE RENEW
LANDMARK AGREEMENT TO PROTECT ENDANGERED RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Timber Company, a separate operating group of Georgia-Pacific Corp., has agreed to extend for 10 years their landmark 1993 agreement for conserving the habitat of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers on company-owned and managed forest land.
The memorandum of agreement (MOA) was, at its inception in 1993, the first of its kind between a private timberland owner and the principal federal agency charged with protecting and recovering endangered species in the United States. The MOA provides for protecting red-cockaded woodpecker habitat across The Timber Company's 4 million acres of southeastern timberlands.
"Georgia-Pacific's innovative move in committing to protect the woodpecker on its lands paved the way for many new partnership agreements between the Service and private timberland owners," said Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, who announced the initial trend-setting agreement 5 years ago. "These agreements are proof that the Endangered Species Act works, that Americans can protect endangered species and continue robust economic development."
Service Southeast Regional Director Sam D. Hamilton noted that The Timber Company's objective of sustaining active woodpecker clusters that exist in viable populations on its Southern timberlands has been achieved. He said that the red-cockaded woodpecker population on company lands has remained stable, fluctuating between 91 and 97 active clusters. The MOA also protects the largest RCW population in Arkansas, he added.
The renewed MOA closely mirrors the original plan, combining forest management activities and protection of the bird's habitat areas. Company foresters locate and mark all active clusters and maintain and protect buffer zones, prohibit new roads and provide adequate foraging habitat for each group of red-cockaded.
"This agreement has withstood the test of time and clearly demonstrates the benefits of cooperative involvement in environmental protection," said Donald L. Glass, president and chief executive officer of The Timber Company. "Renewing the MOA for 10 years signals our long-term commitment to achieving balance between sound economics and environmental stewardship."
Company foresters also work closely with Fish and Wildlife Service biologists to conduct ongoing studies into the bird's behaviors and habitat preferences. Over the past five years, the organizations have learned more about the bird's habits and the forest structure required to sustain it.
The red-cockaded woodpecker is unique among woodpecker species in Southern forests because it nests exclusively in living pine trees and is a cooperative breeder, living in family units called groups. Groups typically consist of a breeding pair and up to four helpers, which usually are male offspring from previous breeding seasons.
Currently, 91 groups of red-cockaded woodpeckers inhabit The Timber Company's lands in southeast Arkansas and northeast Louisiana. All company employees working in red-cockaded woodpecker areas have been thoroughly trained in the MOA's requirements and in identifying active red-cockaded woodpecker clusters.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat, such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.
Headquartered at Atlanta, The Timber Company manages 5.8 million acres of timberland in North America and sells timber and wood fiber to industrial wood users.
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Release #: R98-096
1998 News Releases