Along with training troops for battle, Fort Benning for years has been fighting to save the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker from extinction.
Classified as endangered in 1970, the bird named for the red stripes or cockades on its head is a "keystone species" that benefits other organisms: It helps protect trees in old-growth longleaf pine forests by feeding on termites and other pests, and it leaves nesting cavities that provide habitat for other animals. Fort Benning is among the places where longleaf stands remain, and through controlled burns it manages land to maintain that habitat.
So much of the South's longleaf forests were lost to logging and farming over the past century that today only 3 percent of the woodpecker's natural habitat remains, according to Columbus State University's Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center, which presents "Managing Red-cockaded Woodpecker Populations at Fort Benning" 10 a.m.-noon Saturday.
Speaking will be Kristina Witter, one of the biologists monitoring Fort Benning's woodpecker population. A "translocation" program sends woodpecker fledglings throughout the Southeast to improve population growth.
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Saturday's woodpecker presentation at the 3535 South Lumpkin Road center is for adults only. For more information, call 706-687-4090, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://oxbow.colstate.edu.