[Federal Register: March 20, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 54)]
[Page 13719-13720]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of the Second Revision of the Recovery 
Plan for the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability 
of the second revision of the recovery plan for the red-cockaded 
woodpecker (Picoides borealis). The original plan was approved in 1979 
and the first revision was approved in 1985. The endangered red-
cockaded woodpecker is endemic to mature pine woodlands of the 
Southeastern United States and currently occurs in 11 States (Virginia, 
North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, 
Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas). Intensive research has 
greatly increased our understanding of the ecology of red-cockaded 
woodpeckers and has provided powerful management tools that have been 
highly successful in reversing the widespread declines of past decades. 
With appropriate management, the species can achieve full recovery. 
This second revision of the recovery plan describes in detail the 
ecology and management of red-cockaded woodpeckers, and outlines a 
mechanism to recover the species based on new insight into population 
and species viability.

ADDRESSES: Recovery plans that have been approved by the Fish and 
Wildlife Service are available on the Internet at http://
 Recovery plans may also be 

obtained from the Fish and Wildlife Reference Service, 5430 Grosvenor 
Lane, Suite 110, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, telephone 301/429-6403 or 
800/582-3421. The fee for the plan varies depending on the number of 
pages of the plan. A limited supply of this revision to the red-
cockaded woodpecker recovery plan is also available from Ralph Costa, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Forest Resources, 261 
Lehotsky Hall, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina 29634 
(telephone 864/656-2432). Additionally, the plan is available on the 
Clemson Field Office Web site at http://rcwrecovery.fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Ralph Costa at the above address 
and telephone number.



    Restoring endangered or threatened animals or plants to the point 
where they are again secure, self-sustaining members of their 
ecosystems is a primary goal of our endangered species program. To help 
guide the recovery effort, we are working to prepare recovery plans for 
most of the listed species native to the United States. Recovery plans 
describe actions considered necessary for conservation of the species, 
establish criteria for downlisting or delisting them, and estimate time 
and cost for implementing the recovery measures needed.
    The Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.) (Act), requires the development of recovery plans for listed 
species unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a 
particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act requires that during 
recovery plan development, we provide public notice and an opportunity 
for public review and comment. This revision to the recovery plan was 
released for public comment on September 13, 2000 (65 FR 55269), and 
the comment period was reopened on November 21, 2002 (67 FR 70237). 
Information presented during the comment periods has been considered in 
the preparation of this revision.
    The red-cockaded woodpecker was listed as an endangered species in 
1970 (35 FR 16047). This taxon is endemic to open, mature and old-
growth pine ecosystems in the Southeastern United States. Currently, 
there are an estimated 14,068 red-cockaded woodpeckers living in 5,627 
known active clusters across 11 States. It is estimated that pre-
European settlement there were 1 to 1.5 million groups of red-cockaded 
woodpeckers. Limiting factors for the red-cockaded woodpecker are those 
that directly affect the number of potential breeding groups, because 
this is the primary determinant of population size and trend. Multiple 
factors currently impact the persistence of breeding groups and, 
therefore, population and species viability. Foremost among these are 
the factors that limit suitable nesting habitat, namely fire 
suppression and lack of cavity trees. Another factor directly limiting 
the number of potential breeding groups is habitat fragmentation and 
consequent isolation of groups, which results in disrupted dispersal of 
helpers and failure to replace breeders. There are several other 
threats to the existence and recovery of the species, not limiting most 
populations currently, but which will become more important as the 
current limitations are addressed. Chief among these are the 

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of foraging habitat through fire suppression and loss of mature trees, 
and the loss of valuable genetic resources because of small population 
size and isolation of populations.
    The objective of this revision is to provide a framework for the 
recovery of the red-cockaded woodpecker so that protection under the 
Act is no longer necessary. As recovery criteria are met, the status of 
the species will be reviewed and it will be considered for removal from 
the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (50 CFR part 17). The 
red-cockaded woodpecker will be considered for delisting when (1) there 
are 10 populations that each contain at least 350 potential breeding 
groups (400 to 500 active clusters), and 1 population that contains at 
least 1,000 potential breeding groups (1,100 to 1,400 active clusters) 
from among 13 designated primary core populations (see recovery plan 
for the list of primary core populations and the recovery units in 
which they are located); (2) there are 9 populations that each contain 
at least 250 potential breeding groups (275 to 350 active clusters), 
from among 10 designated secondary core populations (see recovery plan 
for the list of secondary core populations and the recovery units in 
which they are located); (3) there are at least 250 potential breeding 
groups (275 to 350 active clusters) distributed among designated 
essential support populations in the South/Central Florida Recovery 
Unit, and six of these populations (including at least two of the 
following--Avon Park Air Force Range, Big Cypress National Preserve, 
and Ocala National Forest) exhibit a minimum population size of 40 
potential breeding groups; (4) the following populations are stable or 
increasing and each contain at least 100 potential breeding groups (110 
to 140 active clusters)--(a) Northeast North Carolina/Southeast 
Virginia Essential Support Population of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain 
Recovery Unit, (b) Talladega/Shoal Creek Essential Support Population 
of the Cumberlands/Ridge and Valley Recovery Unit, and (c) North 
Carolina Sandhills West Essential Support Population of the Sandhills 
Recovery Unit; and (5) for each of the populations meeting the above 
size criteria, responsible management agencies shall provide (a) a 
habitat management plan that is adequate to sustain the population and 
emphasizes frequent prescribed burning, and (b) a plan for continued 
population monitoring.

    Authority: The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the 
Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533 (f).

    Dated: March 5, 2003.
Sam D. Hamilton,
Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 03-6680 Filed 3-19-03; 8:45 am]