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2005 US Open Golfers to Share the Course with Endangered Woodpecker

June 6, 2005

Endangered birds and birdies rarely co-exist on most golf courses. That is unless you happen to be at Pinehurst in the Sandhills of North Carolina during the U.S. Open June 13 through 19. While some of the best golfers in the world are teeing off, in the long-leaf pine trees that line the course red-cockaded woodpeckers will be busy feeding their young before they fledge from the nest.

In May 2005, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Environmental Defense recognized Pinehurst Resort for being the first private landowner in the country to sign-up 10 years ago in a new and innovative program to protect the endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. The program is called Safe Harbor.

After Pinehurstís landmark agreement in 1995, landowners in the Sandhills starting entering the program. Today there are 91 landowner agreements in place providing habitat that supports 56 groups of red-cockaded woodpeckers. The program went nation-wide in 1999, and today more than 320 private landowners across the United States enrolled their lands to conserve and protect 35 endangered and threatened species. Almost 3.6 million acres of private land and 16 linear miles of stream are included in the Safe Harbor Program

We are proud that we can do something for the survival of the
red-cockaded woodpecker, said Brad Kocher, Vice-President Grounds and Golf Course Management. Being in the program really has not changed a whole lot of what we do around here in our daily operation. It has made us more aware that if we do certain management practices here at Pinehurst Resort we will enhance the species.

Since 1995, the numbers of birds at the Pinehurst Resort have increased. From what we have observed, the birds that have grown up on the golf course do not seem to mind the everyday activity that goes with keeping the grounds in pristine condition, said Pete Campbell, biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

After a landowner agrees to the terms of Safe Harbor and signs up, they can become eligible for management assistance and in some cases monetary assistance through other habitat management programs both private and federal. And, now instead of suffering penalties under the Endangered Species Act the landowner is rewarded and assisted by endangered species on their land.


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