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Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Form Partnership to Benefit Endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2005

Contacts:
Louisiana Dept of Wildlife and Fisheries:
      Eric Baka,
225/765-2359;
     Bo Boehringer, 225/765-5115
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
     Ralph Costa,
864/656-2432;
     Richard Gooch,
404/ 679-7124;
     Troy Mallach,
337/291-3123;
     Jim Rothschild,
404-679-7291

 

The endangered red-cockaded woodpecker will have a brighter future in Louisiana, thanks to an agreement among private landowners, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Officials announced a statewide Safe Harbor conservation agreement today in Baton Rouge and said it gives both agencies flexibility to provide private landowners protection when they agree to voluntarily manage their property to conserve red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCW).

“This broad partnership provides a unique opportunity to conserve a rare species and promote the health of its ecosystem,” said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “It grants important assurances to enrolled private landowners that enable them to develop long-range land-use plans and management practices.”

Through a 99-year Enhancement of Survival Permit, the Service authorizes LDWF to issue individual Certificates of Inclusion (Certificates) to private landowners. Landowners can choose one or more land management strategies including forest management, hardwood removal, prescribed burning, cavity management, and woodpecker population management. In return, participating landowners have regulatory assurances on lands that are currently not inhabited by red-cockaded woodpeckers and are not expected to become inhabited without the new management strategies. Existing populations of the species will be managed under the plan, and the red-cockaded woodpeckers on private lands are expected to increase.

“LDWF will provide technical assistance to landowners and administer the program,” said Dwight Landreneau, LDWF secretary. “Interested landowners can contact us for more information and schedule a site visit of their forested property. We look forward to developing long term partnerships with landowners to conserve this endangered species.”

Through this Statewide Safe Harbor Agreement, the Service and LDWF hope to accomplish the following : (1) retain currently occupied nesting and foraging habitat; (2) increase woodpecker groups through the installation of artificial nesting and roosting cavities; (3) create and augment groups of woodpeckers through relocation of surplus juveniles to other acceptable sites; (4) increase habitat connectivity from habitat enhancement, restoration, and/or creation efforts; and, (5) provide incentives to help private landowners adopt land management practices.

The red-cockaded woodpecker is only found in southeastern pine forests, but it once ranged from eastern Texas and Oklahoma, to Florida, and north to New Jersey. The species is no longer present in Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, New Jersey or Tennessee. Remaining Southeastern populations are fragmented and isolated, and the largest known populations occur on federally-owned lands such as military installations and National Forests. The red-cockaded woodpecker’s population has declined because of habitat destruction, alteration, and fragmentation; lack of beneficial habitat management; and, the effects of demographic isolation. The absence of natural fires that once perpetuated open pine habitat has lead to extensive midstory encroachment, which continues to be a major threat to woodpecker populations rangewide.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 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 Assistance program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.

 


For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at http://southeast.fws.gov/ or http://www.fws.gov/.



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