Unintended Consequences of “Protecting” Rare Woodpecker

  Red-cockaded woodpecker.  Source of image:  http://www.fws.gov/athens/images/Red-cockaded%20woodpecker%20120%20KB%205×7.jpg


BOILING SPRING LAKES, N.C., Sept. 23 (AP) — Over the past six months, landowners here have been clear-cutting thousands of trees to keep them from becoming homes for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.

The chain saws started in February, when the federal Fish and Wildlife Service put Boiling Spring Lakes on notice that rapid development threatened to squeeze out the woodpecker.

The agency issued a map marking 15 active woodpecker “clusters,” and announced it was working on a new one that could potentially designate whole neighborhoods of this town in southeastern North Carolina as protected habitat, subject to more-stringent building restrictions.

Hoping to beat the mapmakers, landowners swarmed City Hall to apply for lot-clearing permits.  Treeless land, after all, would not need to be set aside for woodpeckers.  Since February, the city has issued 368 logging permits, a vast majority without accompanying building permits.

The results can be seen all over town.  Along the roadsides, scattered brown bark is all that is left of pine stands.  Mayor Joan Kinney has watched with dismay as waterfront lots across from her home on Big Lake have been stripped down to sandy wasteland.

. . .

Like the woodpeckers, humans are also looking to defend their nest eggs.

Bonner Stiller has been holding on to two wooded half-acre lakefront lots for 23 years.  He stripped both lots of longleaf pines before the government could issue its new map.

“They have finally developed a value,” said Mr. Stiller, a Republican member of the state General Assembly.  “And then to have that taken away from you?”


For the full story, see:

"Rare Woodpecker Sends a Town Running for Its Chain Saws."  The New York Times, Section 1 (Sun., September 24, 2006):  20.


2 thoughts on “Unintended Consequences of “Protecting” Rare Woodpecker”

  1. This relates to your Micro class more than blog, but figured this was as good or better than emailing you. You once told a story about barrels and how the ceo or owner recognized an inefficiency in the design. By changing a lip or other protrusion on the barrel to a design that increased the barrels capacity, the company decreased waste (or increased efficiency). While I’d prefer not to have back to back wal-mart comments, a recent visit reminded me of that story. I normally buy my lawn/leaf bags from Home Depot or Westlake because our mayor/dictator won’t let wal-mart build in NE Lincoln by my house. However, I needed a hair cut and the new Alan Jackson cd so I made the voyage to wal-mart and included lawn bags in my purchases. I used a few of them today and discovered where other retailers’ bags have a sheet of paper enveloping the 5-bag package, wal-mart’s use one of the bags themselves to help hold the package together (all i have seen also have twine).

  2. It is a hopeful day when the Nobel Foundation gives it’s Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus, considering past Peace awards have gone to the U.N., Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, and George Marshall. Perhaps this is recognition that taking money from the world’s (mostly American’s) citizens and giving it to poor countries through their governments (often corrupt, always inefficient) is not the best way to help the poor of the world. Conversely, it has hurt the intended beneficiaries in many instances. Mr. Yunus’ idea, practiced by others, takes money from no one and the benefits per dollar compared to the U.N. and Marshall Plan are incomparable. Perhaps incomparable isn’t true, though comparing my golf game to Tiger’s illustrates the absurdity in trying. Besides alleviating poverty, microfinancing teaches sustainable independence and allows the people to participate in the world economy. Hurray for liberty!!

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