The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with their partners in the South Carolina Ivory-billed Woodpecker Working Group, are seeking volunteers for conducting ground searches for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (IBWO) in South Carolina for the 2006 Field Season. Work will begin on/around 20 February 2006 and may continue through 30 April 2006.
In April 2005, the rediscovery of the IBWO in Arkansas was announced. Following that announcement, reassessments of historically occupied areas throughout the Southeast have begun. This process, coupled with sighting reports in South Carolina from recent years, has spurred interest in bringing together resources and expertise from across the state in an effort to evaluate the possible presence of the species in South Carolina.
The South Carolina Ivory-billed Woodpecker Working Group is a joint partnership between Federal and State agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private entities, sharing information and resources related to Ivory-billed Woodpecker issues in South Carolina. This group will be funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct searches for IBWO in South Carolina during the 2006 Field Season. Searches will be conducted primarily on public lands where sightings have been reported (pre- and post- rediscovery announcement) and where the bird was historically known to occur in South Carolina.
The work will be conducted primarily on public lands in the Congaree-Wateree-Upper Santee Region of South Carolina (near Columbia) as well as the Lower Santee Region (near Jamestown). Other areas of the state may be investigated if valid sighting reports occur during the period of activity to be covered.
Individuals with birding experience and keen field observation skills are desired. The work will consist of traversing remote and rugged bottomland hardwood forests and floodplain terrain, potentially entailing long periods of arduous walking and/or hiking through flooded swamps. The work will also require long periods of remaining sedentary at specific observation points. Because of the nature of this project, each participant may be required to carry documentation equipment such as digital video camera, audio playback equipment, and GPS units. Portions of the searches may also require significant travel by canoe/kayak so experience with these boats would be helpful. Those individuals also possessing skills in habitat assessment (i.e. - age/stand classification, forest resources, etc...) will be of a major benefit to the effort.
Volunteers will be paired to form a crew with the necessary field skills and are requested for a one-week (minimum) period of time. Other arrangements can be made on a case-by-case basis depending on volunteer(s) availability and perceived value to the project. Volunteers will be provided with a training manual and are required to undergo a 1/2-day training session (as are all participants) before commencing work on the project.
Each participant will also be required to sign a Confidentiality Notice before participating in the project. Any positive data gathered during the project may have tremendous impacts for the recovery of the species therefore information on findings will be controlled by the South Carolina Ivory-billed Woodpecker Working Group and the National Recovery Team.
Because of limited funds, it is requested that each volunteer provide their own boots (waterproof), waders (hip/chest), camouflage, foul weather gear, cell phones, and binoculars. Volunteers willing to bring additional equipment that could be of value to the project are encouraged to do so. Due to the remote nature of some of the search areas, programmable portable radios may be available for search teams. Other equipment that may be provided to volunteer search teams: canoes/kayaks (where appropriate), Garmin Rino GPS units, Canon digital video cameras, audio playback units, first aid kits, insect repellant and maps/aerials of search locations.
Besides being involved in an historic event, travel, lodging and per diem will be covered by the project. Vehicle travel will be reimbursed at the rate of 28.5 cents/mile. Due to the limited amount of funds for this project, stipends will not be paid. Depending on search locale, lodging may be on-site or in hotel/motel accommodations. Some of the on-site accommodations will be shared, dormitory style housing but are opportunities to stay on secluded properties of high ecological value.
Interested individuals need to provide a brief summary of experience and potential dates for participation. A listing of any additional equipment that could be of value to the project will be of great assistance. Volunteers will sign primary agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and any ancillary agreements as deemed necessary, depending upon search locale. Search Area Coordinators will contact those applicants that fit criteria for the project to make arrangements for their participation.
Jennifer Koches (USFWS)- firstname.lastname@example.org, (843)727-4707 ext. 214
May 11, 2008 by Edward Kujawski
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