North Carolina Sandhills Suboffice
Conserving the Nature of America

Safe Harbor Program

The Safe Harbor Program was initiated in the North Carolina Sandhills in 1995. The basic idea behind a safe harbor agreement is that people who do good deeds shouldn't be punished for doing them. Safe Harbor agreements assure landowners that if they restore or enhance habitat, they won't incur any new restrictions if their actions result in an endangered species taking up residence.

The North Carolina Sandhills Safe Harbor Program covers the following area: The Sandhills Physiographic Region of south-central North Carolina including Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Moore, Richmond, and Scotland counties. This includes lands south of Highway 24/27 in Moore county, east of Highway 220 and north of highway 74 in Richmond county; north of highways 74 and 401 in Scotland county; north of highway 401 in Hoke county; west of I-95 in Cumberland county; and south of highway 27 and west of highway 401 in Harnett county.

If a landowner is interested in signing up in Safe Harbor, they need to contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office located in the North Carolina Sandhills to set up an initial meeting so that we can determine any baseline responsibilities and discuss voluntary activities that the landowner intends to do on the property.

In the North Carolina Sandhills we have 126 agreements with landowners participating in the Safe Harbor Program protecting over 65,194 acres. These lands are comprised of private forests, golf courses, town parks, residential areas, horse farms, school property and a private foundation. There are 73 active red-cockaded woodpecker groups located (wholly or partially) on these enrolled properties.

If you have questions or would like more information about the Safe Harbor Program in North Carolina please view our brochure "The Safe Harbor Program for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers in North Carolina" or you can contact our office at: or call (910) 695-3323.


USFWS Customer Service Center - 1-800-344-WILD

Last Updated: December 4, 2020