Settlement Agreement Improves Protection for Endangered Woodpecker on Mississippi’s Noxubee Wildlife Refuge

Red-cockaded_WoodpeckerBROOKSVILLE, Miss.— Two conservation groups and a long-time volunteer have reached a landmark settlement agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that will lead to better protection for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker on Mississippi’s Noxubee Wildlife Refuge.  The Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to prepare a new management plan for the Refuge, and to suspend any new timber harvest until the new management plan is complete.

“We are elated that we were able to achieve our goals in this case through settlement,” said Tracy Davids of Wild South.  “Prior management at the Refuge resulted in the steady decline of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, and a new conservation-based approach is clearly needed.”

Over the past few years, logging on the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge had increased, including within red-cockaded woodpecker habitat, resulting in the bird’s significant decline.  The Refuge was also failing to notify and involve the public before developing logging proposals.

“National wildlife refuges should be considered safe havens for America’s wildlife, especially during this time of climate disruption,” said Marc Fink, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.  “This agreement should get the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge back on the right track towards conservation for endangered species as its highest priority.”

In agreeing to prepare a new Comprehensive Conservation Plan, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also agreed to revise the agency’s Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Management Plan and Forest Management Plan for the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge.  The Service also agreed that public participation would be allowed for any proposed logging projects in the future.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit were Margaret Copeland, a long-time volunteer on the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, Wild South, and the Center for Biological Diversity.

 The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.