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The red-cockaded woodpecker has been on the endangered species list since 1970. In 1999, the North Carolina Department of Transportation purchased 9,732 acres in northeastern Tyrrell County for $16.5 million to establish a preserve. Currently 18 woodpecker colonies live there. The land is heavily forested and fronts the Albemarle Sound and Little Alligator River. Over the next 7 years the department will set aside $175 million for wetlands preservation, stream restoration, and wildlife protection.