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In May 2014, a group of scientists began conducting protocol surveys to investigate rare black-backed woodpeckers, which are native to California. It was the beginning of a long-term study across sites randomly selected by Dr. Chad Hanson, Director, John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute.

The intact forests of the Sierra Nevada and Southern Cascades Mountains are among the world’s most beautiful forests -and they have a strong history of fire. Black-backed woodpeckers are among the pioneers of forests that have been renewed by fires for millions of years.

While they may scorch large patches, many trees charred by the flames remain alive at the crown. They flush with new growth soon after the burn. However, post-fire forests are routinely harvested for “salvage logging,” and are highly threatened habitats. Black-backed woodpeckers are on the decline and have recently been petitioned for special status species listing.     

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