The Forest Service is closing the Ladder’s bald eagle breeding area along the Verde River to the public on December 1, 2020. The closure is expected to last through June 30, 2021 when the bald eagle nesting season ends, and fledglings are independent. Should nest failure occur and re-nesting not be attempted, the closure will be opened early. The special closure is necessary to reduce human disturbances to the eagles during their nesting season in the Verde Valley. The possible consequences of people disturbing nesting eagles include abandonment of eggs and loss of young.
The closure area is south of Camp Verde on the Prescott National Forest. It is the two-mile section of the Verde River and adjacent National Forest lands in the vicinity of the “Verde Falls” downstream to below the confluence with Sycamore Canyon. Road closures include all of Forest Road 9709R from the junction of Forest Road 574 (Salt Mine Road). Trail closures include Forest Trail 16 and a portion of Forest Trail 508 at the trail junction with the powerlines, north of the trailhead at Rodeo Flat Tank, to the junction with Forest Road 9709R.
River rafters may pass on the river in the closure area but are restricted from stopping, taking out watercraft, or delaying their passage through the area except as needed to scout rapids and for emergencies. Signs are posted along the river to mark the closure boundaries.
Common uses of the area such as hunting, target shooting, fishing, and hiking are prohibited during the closure period. Violation of the closure is punishable by a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for not more than 6 months or both.
Eagle watchers may be stationed at the closure area to protect nesting eagles and to monitor the eagles’ activities for the Arizona Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program. Protection of this breeding area occurs annually through the cooperation of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Prescott National Forest, and the public.
If you have any questions about the bald eagles and their management on the Verde Ranger District, please feel free to call Albert Sillas at (928) 567-1124.