Tuesday, May 03, 2005

EO Newsroom: New Images - Ivory-billed Woodpecker Habitat

Surrounded by farmland, crossed by an interstate highway, and located less than 75 miles from Arkansas’ capital and largest city, the 55,000-acre Cache River National Wildlife Refuge hardly seems wilderness enough to be harboring any secrets. But between 2004 and 2005, this small refuge within Arkansas’ “Big Woods” revealed just how valuable a treasure it hides in its secret cache: the ivory-billed woodpecker, which had been presumed extinct for 60 years.

In this image from NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite, acquired on December 23, 2001, the dense vegetation of swampy bottomland forests, sloughs, oxbow river bends, and bayous in the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge makes a dramatic contrast to the geometric checkerboard of farmlands. Ground that is bare or sparsely vegetated appears pinkish tan. The dense (but leafless in winter) vegetation of the refuge’s tupelo and cypress forests appears dark gray. When you look carefully (particularly in the high-resolution image), the forests are interwoven with swampy areas that appear lighter gray. A large swath of this gray swampy area runs through the narrow strip of the refuge that follows the Deview Bayou northeast of the large protected area near image center. Interstate 40 cuts diagonally across the southern part of this large tract of land.

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