Benjamin Cone, Jr. of Greensboro, North Carolina has always managed his timberland to the benefit of wildlife, but he was almost forced to clear cut his forest to prevent the spread of the endangered Red Cockaded Woodpecker.
The reason? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service required him to set aside 60 acres of habitat for every colony of active woodpeckers on his property. With 29 woodpeckers living in 12 active colonies, Cone was supposed to preserve 1,121 acres of his land at a personal cost of $1,425,000 (based on the value of the timber that he would no longer be able to "selectively" harvest).
According to the current ESA law, cutting down one of the trees or killing a bird is a felony conviction that could result in heavy fines and jail time. In order to prevent the woodpeckers from spreading to the rest of his land, thereby devaluing his remaining property, this nature lover considered the environmentally unconscionable - a "clear cut" of his remaining timber. It was only after he threatened to clear-cut the land that the government offered to negotiate a settlement.
Source: Mr. Benjamin Cone, Jr., March 31, 1997
Posthaste Facts on the Environment #20, published April 4, 1997 by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Court, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, 202/543-4110, Fax (202) 543-5975, E-Mail [email protected].