NCWRC expresses baseline responsibilities in terms of the number of active clusters and the amount and quality of foraging habitat.


There are many factors that need to be considered before determining baseline responsibilities. Therefore, to better serve you, we recommend that your first step be to contact the program’s administrator, John Carpenter, who can further clarify any ambiguities and answer additional questions that you may have after referencing the information presented in this section.


To determine the baseline conditions, you need to verify if suitable Red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) habitat exists on the owner’s property and if a known RCW group exists within one-half-mile of the property.

Criteria for Suitable Foraging Habitat:

  • Pine or pine-hardwood (50 % or more pine),
  • Stands 30 years of age or older

Criteria for Suitable Nesting Habitat:

  • Pine and pine-hardwood stands over 60 years,
  • Pine and pine-hardwood stands under 60 years containing scattered or clumped pine trees over 60 years,
  • Hardwood-pine over 60 years adjacent to pine and pine-hardwood stands over 30 years, or
  • Pine stands containing sawtimber, including stands thought to be generally less than 60 years but containing scattered or clumped trees over 60 years.

Definition of "Known RCW group":

  • Property owner knowledge, and
  • NC Natural Heritage Program (NHP) database,
  • NCWRC databases,
  • Databases from cooperating agencies and organizations, and
  • Any other reliably obtained and approved information from expert local sources.

Determine your baseline:

  1. If suitable nesting habitat is present on a property, the property owner will be required to consult with a qualified person experienced in the management and/or monitoring of the covered species to determine whether RCW groups exist on the property. Using qualified personnel will limit undetected cavity trees and misjudged activity status.  Contact the program administrator for more information on conducting baseline surveys.

    Once surveys are completed, the property owner's baseline will be equal to:
    • The total number of active clusters found on the property, and
    • The portion of foraging habitat, if present, from RCW clusters within 1/2 mile.

  2. If suitable foraging habitat is not present, and there are no RCW groups within 1/2 mile of the property, further assessment is not necessary, and the property owner’s baseline will be ZERO.


Thank you for your interest in the North Carolina Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) Safe Harbor Program! 

For more information, please contact:

John P. Carpenter
NC RCW Safe Harbor Program Coordinator
NC Wildlife Resources Commission
Phone: (910) 742-7231