Stopping Ditch on Cache River May Have Saved Big-Bird Habitat

March 25, 2006 - Posted at 12:21 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK (AP) _ The east Arkansas habitat of the recently

rediscovered ivory-billed woodpecker would probably not still be

around if a project along the Cache River had been carried out in

the 1970s. That's the assessment of a conservationist who addressed

a conference on old-growth forests.

Doug Zollner with the Arkansas office of The Nature Conservancy

says the Army Corps of Engineers had proposed to alter the Cache

River as a flood-control measure intended to speed the flow of high

water out of the basin.

The ivory-bill was long thought to be extinct but was

rediscovered in 2004 in the bottomland swamps called the Big Woods

along the Cache River and Bayou DeView north of Brinkley.

Zollner gave a presentation at a forum today on old-growth

forests. He says that had the corps plan gone forward, the habitat

would have been altered in the Big Woods, perhaps making the area

unfit for the ivory-bill.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)