CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Officials with military and state and federal conservation agencies gathered for a celebratory planting of Longleaf Pine Seedlings at the Stones Creek Game Land on Sneads Ferry, North Carolina, April 30.
The planting celebrated the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Recovery and Sustainment Program Partnership, also known as RASP, a collaboration between the military and state and federal agencies to protect the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker.
“Many years ago [Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers] decided to plant themselves in our training area and we decided that we wanted to help save these birds,” said Col. Michael Scalise, Deputy Commander of Marine Corps Installations East, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “This is the culmination of our efforts.”
By planting longleaf pine seedlings it provides prime woodpecker real-estate, promoting the recovery of the woodpecker population.
“Whomever has been at the base of Camp Lejeune has always tried to work with the community whenever they could,” said Walter Jones, a congressman with the House of Representatives. “And this is a prime example.”
Camp Lejeune is to recover and maintain 173 Red-Cockaded Woodpecker clusters under the Endangered Species Act.
Stones Creek Game land will support 12 RCW clusters on its 2,726-acres and Bear Garden tract will support 48 RCW clusters on its 12,726-acres, helping achieve and maintain Camp Lejeune’s 173 RCW cluster requirement.
According to Scalise, the training was often shifted in order to accommodate RCW cluster preservation.
“You’re trying to replicate, as best you can, a combat environment but we lost that realism in training” said Scalise. “We don’t move the birds but what we do is create an environment that they would be interested in living in, allowing us to bring that [realism] back.”
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation manages funds provided by the Marine Corps for these conservation efforts.
“Many people don’t know about these kinds of relationships,” said Jones. “It speaks well of the Marine Corps and the conservation programs.”