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Photo by Tanja Pigott

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) Information & Protocol

The City is home to several ecologically important species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW). The RCW is a species that primarily inhabits longleaf pine forests, which comprise much of the landscape within the City. The RCW is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which is implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

A permit, issued by the City, is required for the removal of ANY tree that is 8" DBH (diameter at breast height) or larger; however, the removal of any PINE trees also requires authorization from USFWS, if they are located in an RCW sensitive area. These areas are categorized as "red" and "blue." "Red" zones are those parcels that lie within a cluster, which are areas with active cavity trees, plus a 200 foot buffer. "Blue" zones are the foraging areas outside of the clusters, where the birds search for food and defend their territory. 



How do I know if my property is located in a woodpecker zone?

Using the parcel number, search the RCW Parcel Classification List. "Green" parcels are those parcels outside of an RCW sensitive area. "Blue" and "Red" parcels are those within an RCW sensitive area, and will require coordination with USFWS.

Brunswick County GIS (to find your parcel number)

RCW Parcel Classification List

What do I do if my property is located in a "red" woodpecker zone and I want to remove pine trees?

Prior to requesting a permit from the City, please contact USFWS for authorization to remove any pine trees. The City will not process applications for pine tree removal without the written consent of USFWS.

What do I do if my property is located in a "blue" woodpecker zone and I want to remove pine trees?

Please submit the following items to the City's Planning & Zoning Department -

1. Tree Removal Application

2. Tree Survey (may be hand drawn) - Must show the location and sizes of all pine trees you want to remove, in relation to existing and proposed structures.

3. Basal Area Worksheet - Please complete the highlighted fields only. Please include the total number of pine trees in each class size on the property, as well as the total number of pine trees in each class size you want removed. Measurements shall be in diameter. To determine the diameter of a tree, measure around the tree at 4 1/2 feet above ground level, then divide by 3.14.

Once the application, tree survey, and spreadsheet are received, the City will conduct an inspection to confirm the trees you want to remove fall within ordinance guidelines for removal. If the pine trees fall within ordinance guidelines, and the post-project basal area is at, or above, the USFWS recommended minimum, the City will submit a letter to USFWS for signature, prior to issuance of a permit. If the post-project basal area is below the USFWS recommended minimum, the City will forward the tree survey, inspection results, and basal area worksheet to USFWS for processing.

How long does it take to get a permit to remove pine trees in a woodpecker zone?

Approximate turnaround time for "blue" lots is 2 weeks. "Red" lots are processed by USFWS on a "case-by-case basis."

Can I receive a notification when USFWS updates the Parcel Classification List?

Yes. Please complete the RCW Parcel Update Notification form to be placed on a mailing list for automatic email notification.

Who do I contact at USFWS for processing my request on a "red" lot, or to get more information about removing pine trees?









RALEIGH, NC 27636-3726

(919) 856-4520 EXT. 28