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PNS Daily Newscast - December 13, 2018 


Trump 'fixer' Michael Cohen gets three years, and Trump calls him a liar. Also on the Thursday rundown: Higher smoking rates cause some states to fall in health rankings; and the Farm Bill helps wilderness areas.

Daily Newscasts

Healthy Homes Needed for Endangered NC Birds

The red patches on either side of the head of male red-cockaded woodpeckers are rarely seen - the birds usually conceal them unless they're excited or agitated. (Chuck Hess/U.S. Forest Service)
The red patches on either side of the head of male red-cockaded woodpeckers are rarely seen - the birds usually conceal them unless they're excited or agitated. (Chuck Hess/U.S. Forest Service)
December 4, 2018

WILMINGTON, N.C. — The Fourth National Climate Assessment released by the federal government outlined the impacts of severe weather on the nation. North Carolina isn't immune to the risks that climate change is creating - but there are plans to help some species make a comeback.

During Hurricane Florence, southeastern North Carolina suffered damage to long-leaf pine forests. Zach West, Southeastern Coastal Plain land steward with The Nature Conservancy, said that, in turn, created problems for another species - the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. He said these woodpeckers are the only ones in North America that create nesting cavities in live pines - a process that takes years.

"Red-cockaded woodpeckers also nest in live long-leaf pine trees, and so, that creates a weak point in the bole of a tree,” West said. “With increased storms and increased winds, those trees can kind of snap off at that weak point."

Starting in January, West said, Nature Conservancy crews will drill cavities into healthy trees, taking care not to harm the trees, to give more North Carolina birds the shelter they need faster than than they can create it themselves.

West said the birds prefer to nest in mature long-leaf pines, since the trees are very dense. These types of trees used to make up 92 million acres of southern U.S. forestland, but now, it's less than 4 million.

"Originally it was used for naval stores. So they'd take turpentine, they'd collect the sap from these trees and create a host of different products, including tar used for shipbuilding,” he explained. “You know, once the shipbuilding industry kind of waned, then they started cutting it for timber value, and it was never really replanted."

West said controlled burning in some southeastern forests also will start in January, to help improve growing conditions for new trees. The southeast once had at least 3million red-cockaded woodpeckers, but the bird has been endangered since the 1970s. According to recent federal estimates, close to 15,000 birds remain.

Antionette Kerr/Cynthia Howard, Public News Service - NC