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Director's Corner

Dan Ashe served as FWS Director from June 2011 until January 2017. The following is an archive of blogs authored by Director Ashe during that time. This content is intended for historical reference only and not as a representation of current Service policy or opinion.

Sharing his Home with Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers

Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Photo by Michael McCloyRed-cockaded woodpecker. Credit: Michael McCloy

Louis Bacon is at it again.

In September, we celebrated the establishment of the 558th unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System: the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area in Colorado, made possible by Mr. Bacon’s nearly 77,000-acre conservation easement

A few weeks ago, I was out at the 13,000-acre Orton Plantation on the Cape Fear River in southeastern Brunswick County, North Carolina. In 2010, Mr. Bacon purchased an 8,400-acre portion of his ancestral plantation and has been engaged in a variety of habitat restoration activities on the property since.

In particular, Mr. Bacon has been concerned about the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. And he is already helping.

Thanks to his land stewardship at Orton Plantation, a female red-cockaded woodpecker joined the solitary male occupying the territory on Orton Plantation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and Mr. Bacon have been working to enroll the property in the North Carolina Statewide Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) Safe Harbor Program, and a final Safe Harbor Agreement is circulating among the parties for signature.

Orton Plantation

Dillon Epp (from left), property manager of the Orton Plantation, Louis Bacon and I.

Safe Harbor Agreement is a voluntary agreement that provides regulatory assurances to landowners who aid in the recovery of this endangered species. Even if the voluntary actions attract listed species onto enrolled properties, the agreement says, the property owners will not face land use restrictions.

We look forward to working more closely with Mr. Bacon and his team to advance our mutual conservation goals. And we hope his example inspires other private landowners.

Conservationist. Land steward. Matchmaker for lonely woodpeckers…

I am excited to see what Louis Bacon has planned next.


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