Thursday, November 13, 2014

ACE Basin now home to Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers

ACE Basin pine savannah suitable for Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers

There is good news on many fronts for the ACE Basin. The natural resources running along and in between the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto Rivers consist of a large ecosystem that is able to sustain both plant and wildlife diversity. New to the mix this month is the red-cockaded woodpecker, brought in to Colleton County by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
RCW image courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife
The November 2 celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the ACE Basin brought the U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Mr. Robert Bonnie to Nemours, along with several other dignitaries from Ducks Unlimited and other local conservation groups. Dr. Ernie Wiggers is the CEO of the Nemours Wildlife Foundation and he addressed the crowd saying that red-cockaded woodpeckers are coming to private lands in the ACE Basin. These birds will join a distinguished flock that includes visiting Whooping cranes and secretive black rails.
Celebrating 25 Years in 2014!
It was back in the Spring 2008 ACE Basin newsletter when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that there was potential to introduce the red-cockaded woodpeckers onto suitable private properties. I attended a landowner meeting at Chehaw Combahee Plantation a year earlier for those interested in learning about the Safe Harbor program that the federal government enacted to help landowners to steward the red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCW's) that are on the federal endangered species list.
RCW nesting tree from Jasper County
During a media interview at the Nemours celebration I sat down with Undersecretary Bonnie to discuss the RCW efforts. “This is another project where the ACE Basin will have influence on others far past the South Carolina border,” said Bonnie. “Demand for Red-cockaded woodpecker restoration has exceeded the supply of available birds. The ACE Basin will receive RCW’s that come from the Francis Marion National Forest, which has always been an RCW stronghold. Hurricane Hugo flattened many RCW trees there but this actually accelerated the RCW restoration program because artificial nesting cavity experiments in the aftermath proved very successful." A total of 20 red-cockaded woodpeckers, or ten pairs, were introduced into Colleton County on November 6, 2014.

To read this entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view a video click on red-cockaded woodpecker.

To view the latest Birding Journal Observations click Sept. / Oct. 2014


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