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Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners Announce Formation of Ivory-billed Woodpecker Recovery Team

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2005

Contacts:
Connie Light Dickard, 601/941-6395 or 601/321-1121
Jim Rothschild, 404/679-7291 or 404/457-3027

 

Less than a month after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners announced that the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge is home to the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, the agency said today it has named the first members of a range-wide recovery team that will craft a roadmap for the conservation of this extraordinary bird.

At the same time, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director Sam Hamilton, announced the team’s leaders would have their initial meeting in Brinkley, Arkansas, at the end of June. The team will include representatives from state fish and wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, and universities.

“This recovery team brings together some of the best minds in ecology, conservation biology, forestry, and ornithology, from a wide spectrum of organizations who can contribute knowledge and resources toward this magnificent bird’s comeback,” Hamilton said. “We likely won’t get a second chance to do this critical job, and we need to move effectively and quickly.”

The recovery team convenes in June, and our goal is to have a completed recovery plan by Summer 2007. The recovery effort will cover the bird’s historic range and will focus on the Big Woods corridor of Central Arkansas, Eastern Texas’ Big Thicket, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, southern Georgia, and the Carolinas.

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker once nested in both bottomland swamps and adjacent pine forests throughout the Southeastern United States and Cuba. Although activities are aimed at recovering the United States’ population, the recovery team plans to coordinate with Cuba and its conservation efforts.

In this country, the bird ranged from the coastal plain of North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, large portions of Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, Louisiana, eastern Texas, west Tennessee, and small areas of Illinois, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Missouri. The range became smaller by the late 1800s and the woodpecker was no longer found in Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois or Kentucky. Ivory-billed numbers continued to decline and by the mid 1940s, most people believed all the birds were gone. Until now, there had been no confirmed sighting of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker in more than 60 years. “Arkansans should be proud of their conservation ethic and the work they’ve done to restore the Cache and White River basins, and the benefits to the woodpecker as well as waterfowl, wild turkey, deer and many other species of wildlife,” Hamilton said.

On April 28, the Interior and Agriculture Departments announced that $10.2 million would be redirected to conservation efforts benefiting this woodpecker’s recovery. This funding is in addition to the $10 million already committed to research and habitat protection efforts by private sector groups and citizens.

Under the Endangered Species Act, the Service is required to establish a recovery team to prepare a comprehensive recovery plan for the species and to advise agencies, stakeholders, and the public on conservation actions proposed for the species.

The recovery team led by an executive committee chaired by Sam Hamilton, and Jon Andrew, chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System in the Southeast Region, will oversee the efforts of the team’s three working groups

The first two groups are Biology and Habitat Management and Conservation. The biology working group will focus on research, including natural history investigations, population viability, and survey techniques. The habitat management and conservation group will identify, inventory, and describe current and potential habitat and provide recommendations and advice on forest management. Dr. Ken Rosenberg from Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology will lead the biology working group. Kenny Ribbeck of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Dr.Tom Foti with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission will lead the habitat management and conservation working group.

The third is the Corridor of Hope conservation working group, which is made up of public and private partners who will support the recovery planning effort and focus on land conservation in the Mississippi Delta of Arkansas. This team will be led by David Goad, deputy director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and Scott Simon, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas.

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 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 fish and wildlife management 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, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.

 

Members of the IBW Recovery Team’s Executive Committee follow:

Sam D. Hamilton, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Regional Director in Atlanta, Georgia, serves as Chair. A native of Mississippi, Hamilton oversees Fish and Wildlife Service activities in 10 southeastern states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The region is home to more than 125 National Wildlife Refuges, 14 national fish hatcheries, 16 ecological services offices, and 38 law enforcement offices.

Scott Henderson, Director of Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in Little Rock, Arkansas, has been director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission since 2003 and served as assistant director of the agency from 1987-2003.

Dr. John Fitzpatrick, Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology, is the co-leader of the ivory-bill search effort in Arkansas. He has been the director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology since 1995. Previously, he was executive director of Florida's Archbold Biological Station and curator of birds at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.

Dr. James Tate, Science Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton,
began his conservation career more than 30 years ago as an associate professor at Cornell University and assistant director of the respected Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Dr. Tate has worked extensively on endangered species issues. For two years, he served as advisory scientist for the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory on projects involving sage grouse and other environmental issues. Dr. Tate received his doctorate in zoology from the University of Nebraska with a thesis on the foraging behavior of woodpeckers.

John Bridgeland, president and CEO of Civic Enterprises, served as a teaching fellow in the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he lectured on Presidential Decision Making. Recently, Bridgeland served as Assistant to the President of the United States and the first Director of the USA Freedom Corps. In that role, he coordinated more than $1 billion in domestic and international service initiatives and worked with non-profits, corporations and schools.

Brig. General Robert Crear, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has been district engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Vicksburg District since 1998. The Vicksburg District encompasses 68,000 square miles in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, covering seven major river basins and 270 miles of the Mississippi river and is one of the largest civil works districts in the Corps.

Kirk Duppes, a member of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s national board, will serve on this executive committee.

Nancy Delamar, The Nature Conservancy, is director of external affairs for TNC’s south central division, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Mexico. DeLamar’s responsibilities include working closely with each program in the division, with federal and state agency directors and with the Conservancy’s worldwide government relations staff in Arlington, Virginia.

Dr. Peter Roussopoulos, director of the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station, leads Forest Service research throughout 13 southeastern states including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. He has led the station since its establishment 10 years ago. Dr. Roussopoulos is a member of the Society of American Foresters.

Larry Wiseman, president and chief executive officer of the American Forest Foundation (AFF), created and co-founded the Institutes for Journalism & Natural Resources in 1995. The American Forest Foundation serves as a working platform for partnerships among industry, the environmental and education communities. The Foundation's three core programs include the American Tree Farm System®, Forests for Watersheds and Wildlife ™, and Project Learning Tree. ®


The leaders of the recovery team’s working groups are:

Jon Andrew, chief of the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System in the Southeast, will chair the Steering Committee. He has worked on national wildlife refuges throughout the country. He has also served as the Chief of the Division of Migratory Bird Management in Arlington, Virginia.

Dr. Ken Rosenberg, director of conservation science at Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology, will lead the Biology Working Group. He is the director of conservation science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He has spent many years studying foraging specialization in Amazonian rain forest species. A widely known North American birder, Rosenberg serves as co-captain of the Lab's World Series of Birding team, the Sapsuckers.

Kenny Ribbeck, forestry programs manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will co-lead the Habitat Management and Conservation Working Group. He serves on a number of professional organizations including the Society of American Foresters, The Wildlife Society, Louisiana Forestry Association, and the Louisiana Wildlife Biologists Association. Ribbeck is also forestry programs manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Dr. Tom Foti, chief of research with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, will co-chair the Habitat Management and Conservation Working Group. Foti supervises the Commission’s research staff and develops and implements inventory and monitoring programs. He belongs to a number of professional organizations including American Association for the Advancement of Science, Ecological Society of America, Natural Areas Association, Arkansas Academy of Science, Southeastern Association of Biologists, Southwestern Association of Naturalists, and Society of Wetland Scientists.

David Goad, deputy director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, will share leadership of the Corridor of Hope Conservation working group. Goad has been employed for the past 17 years with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. He has worked as a wildlife management area biologist, regional project coordinator, black bear program leader, as assistant chief for the wildlife management division, and since February 2003, as deputy director.

Scott Simon, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas, will co-chair the Corridor of Hope Conservation working group. He has been one of the leaders of the ivory-bill search and conservation effort in Arkansas. Simon has focused on working with Conservancy staff on expediting habitat acquisition and restoration critical to the ivory-bill's continued survival. Simon has worked in ecological fire restoration for a dozen years and teaches courses and workshops in conservation planning, fire ecology, prescribed fire restoration, wetland ecology, wetland restoration and monitoring.


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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