North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission


The North Carolina state-wide Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) became effective in October 2006.  It was developed to address both the conservation needs of the RCW in the State of North Carolina and the concerns of North Carolina's non-federal property owners.

The agreement covers all non-federal lands within the State of North Carolina that are east of NC Highway 29 and Interstate 85 excluding those portions of Moore, Harnett, Cumberland, Hoke, Scotland, and Richmond counties treated within the Sandhills Safe Harbor Program (see map to the right).


  1. Protect landowner’s property rights, and
  2. Maintain or increase the number of RCW groups on non-federal land


Benefits for Private Landowners

  1. Reduces legal uncertainty from having Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (RCWs) on your land,
  2. Limits impact of insect outbreaks (e.g., pine tip moth and southern pine beetle) and diseases (e.g., fusiform rust and root rot) to your pine forests,
  3. Reduces risk of wildfire,
  4. Increases health and merchantability of your pine trees,
  5. Enhances eligibility for cost sharing to implement proper longleaf pine habitat management,
  6. Creates ideal recreational and hunting conditions


Benefits to RCWs

  1. Restores or enhances suitable nesting and foraging habitat,
  2. Reduces forest fragmentation,
  3. Increases habitat corridors crucial for population connectivity,
  4. Protects the longleaf ecosystem and the many additional rare species from extinction, including more than 30 plant and animal species


Management Requirements

In order to accomplish the goals and objectives of this Program,  all Agreements must incorporate one or more of the following conservation strategies or measures in order to provide important benefits to Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) populations. 

Note: All management activities with the potential to affect RCWs should only be conducted by qualified professionals with appropriate state and federal permits.

How to Enroll

Any non-federal property owner with land that currently is, or that has the potential to be, an upland pine environment, and who is willing to provide a net conservation benefit to Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (RCWs) may enroll.

A property owner wishing to enroll their property in a SHMA with NCWRC should follow these
recommended steps:

  1. Contact and meet with the NCWRC to discuss the terms and conditions of the Agreement;
  2. Determine your RCW baseline.
  3. The property owner should develop a SHMA with NCWRC designed to beneficially manage their property for RCWs by implementing measures that are sufficient to meet the provisions and intent of this Agreement;
  4. Both NCWRC and the property owner must sign the SHMA for it to be valid;
  5. Once NCWRC and a property owner sign the SHMA, the property owner will be issued a Certificate, which contains the property owner’s authorization to take above baseline RCWs and habitat, and provides other regulatory assurances.


Thank you for your interest in the North Carolina Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) Safe Harbor Program! Please fill out the form below and a representative of the Wildlife Resources Commission will contact you shortly.


(xxx) xxx-xxx
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