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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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12/10/2012 7:15:00 AM
Let the Eagles Be
Roads closed; birds have returned for breeding season
The Verde River eagles that spent their summer up north have returned to the Valley this month to begin their breeding season. Closures are in effect, and residents are asked to avoid disturbing nesting sites. Photo by nestwatcher Dave Janssen/AGFD
The Verde River eagles that spent their summer up north have returned to the Valley this month to begin their breeding season. Closures are in effect, and residents are asked to avoid disturbing nesting sites. Photo by nestwatcher Dave Janssen/AGFD

Steve Ayers
Staff Reporter

VERDE VALLEY - As we humans are scurrying about this time of year, gathering items to share with our loved and preparing to a new year, the bald eagles that call the valley home are doing likewise.

Beginning in December, they return home, begin building their nests and making preparations to tend to their young.

And although humans like to gather this time of year and be with one another, eagles don't.

Solitary creatures, their only interests revolve around their mate and any potential offspring.

That's the reason why the Arizona Game & Fish Department and other agencies began hanging out the "Do Not Disturb" signs last week.

"The reason the closures are so critical is that during their breeding season they are particularly sensitive to human actions and activities.

"And later in the season, if we are lucky enough to have them incubating an egg, it becomes more critical. If they leave the nest for as little as 30 minutes the egg will fail," said AZGF spokesperson Lynda Lambert.

The annual Verde River closures began Dec. 1 and will continue through the middle of next June. However, it the nest fails, the breeding area will be reopened sooner.

Only one Verde Valley breeding site is affected by the closure, the Ladders breeding site, south of Camp Verde. Foot traffic is prohibited and road closures will be in place for Forest Road 9709R from its junction with FR 574 and parts of FR 500 and FR 9244 south of Cottonwood Basin.

The closure order for breeding site above Clarkdale known as Towers was lifted last year due to inactivity.

There are additional breeding sites along the Verde. However, according to Janie Agyagos, biologist for the Coconino National Forest, not all of them are signed because many are on private land or in roadless areas.

"We don't do closures for every single pair. We only do it in places where there are roads that take people into the area," said Agyagos.

Rafters, kayakers and canoeists are free to pass through breeding areas but cannot leave the water within the mark reaches.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Article comment by: Nux Man

There are actually multiple accesses into Sycamore Canyon north of Tuzigoot, but folks who know them tend not to reveal them due to over traffic. The gate at the end of Sycamore Canyon Road is the entrance to private property and is always locked.
The wife & I use a simple rule: Sycamore for summer, Lower Verde for winter, and Fossil Creek once in the spring. We are guests in these areas, and should act as such. We may not see the baby eagles, but we know leaving the Sycamore Canyon alone through winter is the best way to see the juveniles in the spring.

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012
Article comment by: Verde River Native

Once again, Dan wants to take everybody's property rights. Those lousy land owners, who do they think they are, owning their property and all, trying to use it and all, they paid for it all, but hey, let's all just take their rights.
Dan, have you ever tried hiking, or riding a horse to the river over Forest Lands? Remember when the mine used to have their private lands open on the river? That sure was nice, I don't know why they closed it off, might had something to do with all the parties, dumps, folks driving their want-a-be monster trucks in the river.
Since you want such easy access to the river, why don't you just ride the train and hop off on a slow curve? Then your right there to float your boat all the way to Camp Verde, until you hit my land that I will be fencing off.

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012
Article comment by: Dan McLaughlin

I would like a map of the areas closed for eagles.
I do not believe there is any way for a rafter or kayak to get to the river if all the roads are closed, so your article is completely misleading.
You may as well say everything north of Tapco is closed to the public. The real truth is, there is no legal access to the river, provided for the public, north of the Tuzigoot bridge.
That is why I would like a real map, printed for everyone, that shows what is up with the Verde river north of the Tuzigoot bridge.
There has been too much confusion, assumptions,and threats that make the upper Verde, a "go at your own risk" kind of place. I also have observed that the gate keeping people out of the nesting area near Sycamore Canyon area is only supposed to be closed for six months out of the year for the eagles to breed, but in fact that gate is locked year round. You are letting a half dozen landowners deny everyone except family and friends, access to a wild and beautiful little river that belongs to everyone.

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