Bald Eagle Breeding Season, Restrictions To Begin

Arizona’s bald eagle breeding season will soon start and as a result some public land and water areas will be closed to protect the majestic animals and ensure even more young eagles take to the skies this spring.

Each year the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) asks outdoor recreationists, aircraft pilots, drone operators and motorized paragliders to avoid disturbing the state’s 87 eagle breeding areas.

“December is a sensitive time for bald eagles because they’re often busy preparing their nests for eggs,” said Kenneth “Tuk” Jacobson, AZGFD bald eagle management coordinator. “The birds often nest, forage and roost at rivers and lakes that are also popular recreation spots. Because of that, it’s important for us all to do what we can to protect the birds to ensure their populations statewide continue to flourish. That success wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation of outdoor recreationists who respect the closures during breeding season.”

During the 2018 breeding season, a record 87 young hatched and 70 reached the important milestone of their first flight, known as fledging.

To further protect the eagles, various land and wildlife management agencies will also close areas around breeding locations, including near popular recreation sites.

Pilots are reminded to maintain the FAA-recommended 2,000-foot above ground level advisory when flying over bald eagle habitat, while drones and paragliders are asked to avoid the areas completely. Bald eagles are sensitive to even short durations of low-flying aircraft activity near their nests and just a few minutes of disturbance can lead to a nesting failure.

AIRSPACE ADVISORY

Statewide

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established a 2000-foot above ground level (AGL) advisory along the Salt and Verde river drainages and lakes such as Lake Pleasant, Roosevelt Lake and Alamo Lake. These areas are designated on the Phoenix Sectional Aeronautical map and also include Alamo Lake, Ashurst Lake, Greer Lakes, Crescent Lake, Luna Lake, Show Low Lake, Chevelon Canyon Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, Lake Mary, Dogtown Reservoir, White Horse Lake and the Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge. 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 Terrestrial Wildlife branch at (623) 236-7506.

SEASONAL CLOSURES

Verde River

  • Verde River at the Needle Rock Recreation area is closed to foot and vehicle entry on the east and portions of the west side of the river from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed, but no stopping in the river or landing on east side of river is allowed. Contact Tonto National Forest, Cave Creek Ranger District, (480) 595-3300.
  • A closure for the Verde River below Sycamore Canyon Wilderness is not planned this year unless the eagle pair resumes nesting. Verde River below Sycamore Canyon Wilderness may be closed to foot and vehicle entry from Dec. 1 to June 15. Floating through is allowed, but contact the Coconino National Forest, Sedona Ranger District office for more information at (928) 282-4119.
  • Verde River near Chasm Creek is closed to foot and vehicle entry from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed. Contact Prescott National Forest Verde Ranger District (928) 567-4121.
  • Verde River near Cold Water Creek, allows watercraft to float through but no stopping on the river or landing is allowed Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Prescott National Forest Verde Ranger District at (928) 567-4121
  • Verde River upstream of the East Verde confluence is closed to vehicle and foot entry from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed, but no stopping in the river or landing is allowed. Contact Tonto National Forest Cave Creek Ranger District at (480) 595-3300.
  • Verde River near Mule Shoe Bend allows watercraft to float through but no stopping in the river or landing is allowed from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest Cave Creek Ranger District at (480) 595-3300.
  • Verde River below Horseshoe Dam is closed to vehicle or 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 allowed. Contact Tonto National Forest Cave Creek Ranger District at (480) 595-3300.
  • Verde River below Bartlett Dam is closed to foot or vehicle entry from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed, but no stopping in the river or landing is allowed. Contact Tonto National Forest Cave Creek Ranger District at (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 east side of river is allowed. A small area on the west side may also be closed depending on nesting locations. Contact Tonto National Forest Cave Creek Ranger District at (480) 595-3300.

Tonto Creek

  • 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 at (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 at (928) 467-3200.

Salt River

  • Salt River from Horseshoe Bend to Redmond Flat allows watercraft to float through, but no stopping in the river or landing is allowed from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest Globe Ranger District at (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 watercraft within 300 feet on water from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact Tonto National Forest Tonto Basin Ranger at District (928) 467-3200.
  • Salt River below Stewart Mountain Dam is closed to vehicle or 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 at (480) 610-3300.
  • Salt River near Goldfield-Kerr Fire Station is closed to foot and vehicle entry on the north side of the river from Dec. 1 to June 30. Floating through is allowed. Contact Tonto National Forest Mesa Ranger District at (480) 610-3300.

Crescent Lake

A portion of the west side is closed closed to all entry from March 1 through Aug. 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest Springerville Ranger District at (928) 333-6200.

Greer Lakes

(Tunnel and River) (not enacted unless pair moves nesting location) – Portions of the lakes 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 at (928) 333-6200.

Horseshoe Lake

A portion of the lake is closed from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department at (623) 236-7506.

Lake Pleasant

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

Lower Lake Mary

(Not enacted unless pair moves nesting location) There may be 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 Flagstaff Ranger District at (928) 527-8288.

Luna Lake

The north side of Luna Lake is closed to vehicle and foot traffic from Jan. 1 to June 15. Contact Apache National Forest Alpine Ranger District at (928) 339-5000.

Lynx Lake

A portion of the lake’s east side is closed to vehicle and foot traffic from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact the Prescott National Forest Bradshaw Ranger District at (928) 443- 8000.

Show Low Lake

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 Aug. 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest Lakeside Ranger District at (928) 368-2100.

White Horse Lake

A portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from March 1 to Aug. 31. Contact the Kaibab National Forest Williams Ranger District at (928) 635-5600.

Woods Canyon Lake

A portion of the lake may be closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline is closed to foot entry from March 1 through Aug. 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Black Mesa Ranger District at (928) 535-7300.

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