Nesting bald eagles cause temporary campground closure in Eldorado National Forest
Those of you planning to camp in the Eldorado National Forest instead of sticking out the busy holiday weekend in the Tahoe Basin may want to review your plans.
Nesting bald eagles have returned to Sunset Campground in the forest, causing a temporary closure of the Shady and Meadow loops (units 1 – 61) in order to protect the sensitive birds, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced earlier this week.
Other sites in Sunset Campground (units 62-131) open today, Friday, May 26, in time for Memorial Day weekend. The sites are available through the reservation system on http://www.recreation.gov.
In addition to Sunset, there are many other campgrounds around the Union Valley Reservoir, including Wench Creek Campground which doesn’t require reservations. There are also abundant dispersed camping options throughout the Crystal Basin on the Pacific Ranger District.
“Sunset Campground was a new nest site for these eagles last year,” District Ranger Richard Thornburgh said in the press release. “We encouraged the eagles to nest away from the campground by building a nesting platform nearby on Granlee Point last fall. Although the eagles still choose to return to Sunset this year, we’ve been able to narrow the scope and timing of the closure to accommodate more camping.”
The Forest Service plans to begin a phased reopening of units 1-61 in mid-June. During the nesting season, the USFS will also provide opportunities for visitors to view the bald eagle nest with a spotting scope and learn more about the biology of the birds.
Bald eagles have nested around Union Valley Reservoir since 1986, according to USFS. The birds build large stick nests in the upper branches of the tallest trees, which offer great views for fishing and protecting their nest. Pairs generally return to the same nest year after year, building upon and improving it. For more than 10 years, the Union Valley bald eagles nested on Granlee Point on the southeast side of the reservoir.
Late in 2015, the Granlee Point nest fell out of the tree, and the bald eagles built a new nest in Sunset Campground. The bald eagles in Union Valley have successfully fledged two juveniles in 2015 and 2016, helping to boost populations of bald eagles in California.
USFS is working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the nesting eagles while minimizing restrictions on recreational use of the area. Disturbance of eagles is prohibited under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/eldorado for more information on the status of roads and recreation sites throughout the Eldorado National Forest.