Endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast/Flickr
Their mission has always been to protect and defend, but now five military installations are watching over something new: a tranquil and towering forest along South Carolina’s Wateree River. In 2009, we joined Fort Jackson, McCrady National Guard Training Center, McEntire Air National Guard Station, Shaw Air Force Base and Poinsett Bombing Range in preserving 1,900 acres of critical longleaf pine and bottomland hardwood forest. This landscape, now held by the Congaree Land Trust, may soon welcome a new resident, the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.
The effort is the nation’s lead conservation project involving multiple military partners along with state and local leaders. The Department of Defense’s National Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative’s Conservation Buffer Program funded the project as part of its Midlands Area Joint Installation Consortium (MAJIC) effort to establish buffers around the bases. Since 2008, we have helped MAJIC protect over 2,500 acres across South Carolina.