Help protect Arizona's bald eagles: Respect closure areas
Nov 27, 2007

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 21 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 48 breeding pairs of bald eagles. Some of the closure areas are located near popular recreation sites.

"Even though the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list earlier this year, 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. The birds recovered enough to be removed from the list in August 2007. Part of the reason for the comeback in our state is the Arizona Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program, which contracts with volunteers to monitor breeding areas, educate the public about breeding area closures and identify situations where intervention might be needed to save an eagle's life.

 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.

However, Jacobson says, "With the public's help and cooperation, we can all take responsibility for ensuring that Arizona bald eagles breed successfully."

SEASONAL CLOSURES

Alamo Lake
 
Alamo Lake - A portion of upper Alamo Lake may be closed to boats from Jan. 1 to June 30. Contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Region IV, Yuma, (928) 342-0091.

Lake Pleasant
  Lake Pleasant  - No vehicle or foot entry is allowed into the Lower Agua Fria Arm from Dec. 15 to June 15. Contact Maricopa County Parks and Recreation, (928) 501-1710.

Verde River 
  Verde River below Sycamore Canyon Wilderness is closed to foot and vehicle traffic from Dec. 1 to June 15. Boating through is allowed. Contact Coconino National Forest, Sedona Ranger District, (928) 282-4119.

  Verde River near Chasm Creek is closed to foot and vehicle entry from Dec. 1 to June 15. Boating through is allowed. Contact Prescott National Forest, Verde Ranger District, (928) 567-4121.

  Verde River near the confluence with Coldwater Creek allows boats to float through, but there is no stopping in the river or landing from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Prescott National Forest, Verde Ranger District, (928) 567-4121.

  Verde River upstream of the East Verde confluence is closed to vehicle and foot traffic from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed, but no stopping in the river or landing is permitted. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480) 595-3300. 

  Verde River near Mule Shoe Bend allows boats to float through, but there is no stopping in the river or landing allowed from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480) 595-3300.

  Verde River below Horseshoe Dam is closed to vehicle and foot entry on the southwest side of the river from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed, but no stopping in the river or landing on the southwest side of the river is permitted. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480) 595-3300.

  Verde River below Bartlett Dam is closed to foot and vehicle entry from Dec. 1 to June 30. Boating through is allowed. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480) 595-3300.

  Verde River at the Needle Rock Recreation area is closed to foot and vehicle entry on the east side of the river from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed, but no stopping in the river or landing on the east side of the river is permitted. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480) 595-3300.

Tonto Creek
  Tonto Creek from Gisela to 76 Ranch is closed to vehicle and 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 boats within 300 feet on water from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Tonto Basin Ranger District, (928) 467-3200.

Salt River
  Salt River from Horseshoe Bend to Redmond Flat allows boats to float through, but no landing or stopping in the river is permitted from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Globe Ranger District, (928) 402-6200.

  Salt River near Meddler Point is closed to vehicle and foot entry within 1,000 feet of the  nest on land, and to boats within 300 feet on water from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest, Tonto Basin Ranger District, (928) 467-3200.

  Salt River below Stewart Mountain Dam is closed to vehicle and foot entry on the south side of the river from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed. Contact the Tonto National Forest, Mesa Ranger District, (480) 610-3300.

Becker Lake
 
A portion of Becker Lake may be buoyed off to boats and a portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from Feb. 1 through June 30. Contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Region I, Pinetop, (928) 367-4281.

Luna Lake
 
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.

Lynx Lake
 
Lynx Lake is closed to vehicle and foot traffic on the east side of the lake from Dec. 1 to June 30. A portion of the shoreline is also buoyed off, restricting boat entry. Contact the Prescott National Forest, Bradshaw Ranger District, (928) 443-8000.

Lower Lake Mary
 
Lower Lake Mary is closed to vehicle and foot traffic 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.

San Carlos River
 
San Carlos Reservoir from below Peridot is closed to vehicle and foot entry, and floating through from Dec. 1 to June 30.  Contact the San Carlos Recreation and Wildlife Department, (928) 475-4758.

Talkalai Lake
 
Talkalai Lake on the north side is closed to foot entry and boats from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact the San Carlos Recreation and Wildlife Department, (928) 475-4758.

TIPS FOR VISITING EAGLE AREAS

If you are visiting bald eagle country, an advance call to the local land management agency (USDA Forest Service district, etc.) or the Arizona Game and Fish Department may help you plan your trip to avoid disturbing bald eagles. By following these simple guidelines, we can all help ensure that our living wildlife legacy will last for generations to come:

  Enjoy bald eagles from outside the closures, especially during critical nesting times (December to June). These areas are posted with signs and/or buoys, and most have daily nestwatch monitors. Anyone approached by a nestwatcher and asked to cease an activity or leave a closed area should comply. A few good places to see bald eagles without disturbing them (during December and January) are at Lake Mary and Mormon Lake near Flagstaff or on the Verde River Canyon Train in Clarkdale.

  Bald eagles protecting an active nest will let you know if you are too close. If a bald eagle is vocalizing and circling the area frantically, you are too close and need to leave the area quickly. Bald eagles incubating eggs or brooding small young should never be off the nest for more than 15 minutes.

  Pilots should maintain the FAA-recommended 2,000-foot AGL advisory when flying over bald eagle habitat along the Salt and Verde Rivers, Lake Pleasant and Alamo Lake. These areas are designated on the Phoenix Sectional Aeronautical Map. Special brochures for pilots regarding this advisory can be obtained by calling the Arizona Department of Transportation or the Arizona Game and Fish Department's nongame branch, (623) 236-7506.

  Help from anglers is especially needed. Monofilament and tackle has killed two nestlings and has been found in two-thirds of all bald eagle nests in the state. Every year biologists remove this potentially lethal material from nests and entangled nestlings. Ospreys, shorebirds, waterfowl and songbirds also succumb to this litter. Do not discard any type of monofilament along rivers and lakes, but recycle it at fishing stores. Keep your monofilament fresh; do not use old brittle line. Make sure to use the correct test line for the fish you are trying to catch. Also, do not cut the line when an undesirable fish is caught and return it to the water with the hook and line attached.

You can help bald eagle research and recovery efforts by reporting any harassment or shooting of bald eagles. Call the Arizona Game and Fish Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-800-352-0700 or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement at (480) 967-7900.