| Fish and Wildlife
Announce Formation of Ivory-billed Woodpecker Recovery Team
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2005
Dickard, 601/941-6395 or 601/321-1121
Jim Rothschild, 404/679-7291 or
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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