Settlement Will Protect Endangered Woodpeckers on Mississippi’s Noxubee Wildlife Refuge

Two conservation groups and a long-time volunteer represented by Greenfire Law and the Center for Biological Diversity have reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that will lead to better protection for endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers on Mississippi’s Noxubee Wildlife Refuge. The agency has agreed to prepare a new management plan for the refuge and to suspend any new timber harvest until that plan is complete. Red-cockaded woodpeckers, once common in the Southeast but now endangered, need old trees to survive. Over the past few years, logging on the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in red-cockaded woodpecker habitat has increased, resulting in the bird’s significant decline. The refuge was also failing to notify and involve the public before developing logging proposals. In agreeing to prepare a new, comprehensive conservation plan, Fish and Wildlife also agreed to revise the agency’s “red-cockaded woodpecker management plan” as well as the forest management plan for the Noxubee. The Service also agreed that public participation would be allowed for any future proposed logging projects. The agreement, approved by a federal district judge today, settles a lawsuit filed in 2012 that challenged logging plans in the refuge. 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.  Greenfire Law attorneys Rachel Doughty and Jason Totoiu handled this matter along with attorney Marc Fink at the Center for Biological Diversity.