US Fish & Wildlife Service logo
Southeast Region US Fish & Wildlife Service header


Fort Bragg Reaches Recovery Milestone for the Endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker Five Years Earlier than Expected
First Recovery of a Population Segment for the Species


June 7, 2006

Patty Matteson, (919) 856-4520 (ext. 25)
Fort Bragg, (910) 396-5600

FORT BRAGG – Today the U.S. Army and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the recovery of the North Carolina Sandhills population of the federally-endangered red-cockaded woodpecker five years earlier than anticipated.

In 1992 the Sandhills East population on Fort Bragg stood at 238 clusters (family groups of red-cockaded woodpeckers). Today, through partnerships formed with state, federal and private conservation groups that number has risen to 368 clusters. These numbers include groups of birds found on private, partnership and state lands that surround Fort Bragg.

The red-cockaded woodpecker, a small non-migratory bird that makes its home in living pine trees, was listed as endangered in 1970. Reaching this population recovery goal — the first ever documented for this bird species—was possible because of strong partnerships developed and innovative conservation plans. The recovery will also mean a reduction in training restrictions on Fort Bragg.

"Fort Bragg has been a leader in coming up with innovative ways to partner with private, federal and state agencies in order to meet their recovery responsibilities for the red-cockaded woodpecker," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dale Hall said. “Over the past 15 years, the positive relationships forged between these Sandhills partners have resulted in a historic step forward in our collective efforts to recover this endangered bird," Hall said.

Colonel Al Aycock, Fort Bragg garrison commander, and Addison D. Davis, IV, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety, and Occupational health, were a few of the leaders praising the collaborative approach to recovery taken by these partners and the positive effect recovery will have on training restrictions. Both the Army and the Service have exported lessons learned in the Sandhills to other installations and other species recovery efforts across the country.

"This recovery validates the success of the Army's ongoing sustainability efforts, demonstrates our commitment to preserve precious natural resources, such as the long leaf pine ecosystem of the Sandhills, and amplifies what we can achieve by working together with community partners,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Davis. “Equally important, this accomplishment allows the young men and women of our great Army to conduct tough, realistic training.”

As an example, a program born in the Sandhills uses a unique tool called a Safe Harbor Agreement, which enables private landowners to work together with government and non-government agencies to help ensure the survival of imperiled wildlife, plants and fish. Today, 327 landowners are part of 31 Safe Harbor agreements in 17 states protecting more than 3.5 million acres of habitat for 35 species. Another unique approach to recovery was taken by the Army and The Nature Conservancy which entered into a Cooperative Agreement whose goal is to fund the purchase of key lands in the Sandhills that have a high overall conservation value.

In August 2005, the North Carolina Sandhills Conservation Partnership was recognized at the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation as one of the first partnerships in the nation among the Service, the Department of the Army, state agencies, and private conservation groups. The partnership is comprised of the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, the U.S. Army Environmental Center, the Service, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, The Nature Conservancy, the Sandhills Area Land Trust and the Sandhills Ecological Institute.

To date, the partnership has conserved through fee-simple purchase or purchase of conservation easements more than 12,000 acres of land. The partnership is also hosting a conservation summit in conjunction with the celebration to premier a draft conservation plan for the Sandhills. This plan contains strategies for land conservation and management designed to ensure the long-term health and integrity of the Sandhills longleaf pine ecosystem which red-cockaded woodpeckers and many other species rely on for their survival.

“We do have cause for celebration, but we need to continue with our collaborative efforts here in the Sandhills, both on Fort Bragg and in the surrounding communities,” said Pete Campbell, Service biologist and coordinator for the North Carolina Sandhills Conservation Partnership. “We’ve reached a great milestone, and we need to continue to work together to build on this success.”

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, and 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 national significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat, 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 fish and wildlife agencies.

More photos of the event -- go here

Hogan and Frampton on a field trip
Hogan and Frampton on a field trip

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at or

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at Our national home page is at: Atlanta, GA 30345, Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

Graphic for Clickable Items Click for Privacy Statement Click here for Freedom of Information Act Statement Click here for Disclaimer Statement Click here to Contact the Southeast Region Click here for Sitemap Click here for the Search Engine for US Fish and Wildlife Service Click here for the Regions in the US Fish and Wildlife Service