It’s time again for Arizona’s bald eagles to begin their breeding activities, and outdoor recreationists are asked to help protect important breeding areas by honoring the closure of 20 areas across the state.
Various land and wildlife management agencies close the breeding areas for part of the year, beginning in December, to protect the state’s 50 breeding pairs of bald eagles. Some of the closure areas are located near popular recreation sites.
“Even though the bald eagle is federally protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, they still require the public’s help to reproduce successfully and flourish in the state,” says Kenneth Jacobson, head of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Bald Eagle Management Program.
“Human activity near active bald eagle nests can cause a breeding pair to leave its eggs uncovered, leading to a failed breeding attempt. It can take only 30 minutes for a breeding attempt to fail.”
The bald eagle was federally listed as an endangered species in 1978. Nationally, the birds recovered enough to be removed from the list in August 2007, but they remain listed as an endangered species in Arizona.
In December, Arizona bald eagles begin rebuilding nests in preparation for laying eggs. During this time, land and wildlife management agencies enact the seasonal breeding area closures. Bald eagles nest, forage and roost at the rivers and lakes that have become some of Arizona’s most popular recreation spots, and this time of year can be challenging for the birds.
Rim Country seasonal closures
Tonto Creek from Gisela to 76 Ranch is closed to vehicle, foot entry, and floating through from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Tonto Basin Ranger District, (928) 467-3200.
Tonto Creek inlet to Roosevelt Lake is closed to vehicle and foot entry within 1,000 feet of the nest on land, and to watercraft within 300 feet on water, from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Tonto Basin Ranger District, (928) 467-3200.
Luna Lake is closed to vehicle and foot traffic on the north side from Jan. 1 to June 30. Contact Apache National Forest, Alpine Ranger District, (928) 339-4384.
Lower Lake Mary — There is no vehicle or foot traffic allowed on a portion of the north side of the lake from Jan. 1 to Aug. 30. Contact the Coconino National Forest, Mormon Lake Ranger District, (928) 774-1147.
Greer Lakes — A portion of the lake may be closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from March 1 through July 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Springerville Ranger District, (928) 333-4372.
Woods Canyon Lake — A portion of the lake may be closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from April 1 through Aug. 31. Contact Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Black Mesa Ranger District, (928) 535-7300.