The Forest Service is closing the Ladder’s bald eagle breeding area along the Verde River to the public on December 1, 2021. The closure is expected to last through June 30, 2022 when the bald eagle breeding season ends. 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 breeding season. 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 includes a 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. 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. 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.
All recreational uses of the area such as hunting, fishing, and hiking are prohibited during the closure period. Drone operators are asked to avoid the area completely. Pilots are reminded to maintain the Federal Aviation Administration recommended 2,000-foot above ground level advisory when flying over bald eagle habitat. Violation of the closure is punishable by a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for not more than 6 months or both.
The breeding area will be regularly monitored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. In addition, nestwatchers may be stationed at the site to observe the eagles’ activities as part of 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.
The Closure Order and the Bald eagle Nestwatch Program are two of many management actions that agencies use to ensure that Arizona will always have bald eagles for the public to enjoy. To learn more about the management of the southwestern bald eagles in Arizona, visit Southwestern Bald Eagle Management Committee or Arizona Game & Fish.
If you have any questions about the bald eagles and their management on the Verde District, please feel free to contact Albert Sillas at 928-567-1124.