Military properties throughout the pine-covered Southeast are perfect places for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker to make its home.
“The amount of land that the military is managing and managing well, there are all sorts of initiatives for sustainable lands and sustainable training,” Fort Jackson wildlife biologist Nicole Hawkins said. “One of my jobs is to make sure that our mission — which we’re required to do — of protecting certain species, works well for the Army to train.”
Soldiers training at the fort outside Columbia occasionally see the woodpeckers when they’re out in the post’s wooded areas.
“The trainers actually like the habitats that we’re managing,” Hawkins said. “Most of the things they do when they’re walking on the landscape and training on the landscape are not harmful to the red-cockaded woodpecker.”
The red-cockaded woodpecker was listed as an endangered species when the Endangered Species Act passed in 1970. Habitat loss across the growing southern states has reduced the bird’s population, although it has rebounded in recent years to roughly 12,000 nationwide. [Read more…]