Lynx, Verde sites close for bald eagles

[Daily Courier, 12/2/2011] Twenty-one sites on Arizona’s public lands are temporarily closing this month to protect bald eagle nesting sites. A portion of Lynx Lake and its eastern shoreline on the Prescott National Forest closed to the public Thursday and could remain closed as late as June 30. Six areas along the Verde River also closed Thursday and will stay closed as late as June 15.

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
A bald eagle sits in a pine tree above Lynx Lake in this Daily Courier file photo.
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
A bald eagle sits in a pine tree above Lynx Lake in this Daily Courier file photo.

They include the Verde near Chasm Creek on the Prescott National Forest, and the river below Sycamore Canyon on the Coconino National Forest. People still can float through, but no foot or vehicle traffic is allowed. Aircraft also should stay at least 2,000 feet above the Verde and Salt river drainages, as well as Lake Pleasant and Alamo Lake.

“Bald eagles continue to do well in Arizona, but they are sensitive to human activity during the breeding season and it can take as little as 30 minutes of leaving the eggs uncovered for a breeding attempt to fail,” said Kenneth Jacobson, head of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Bald Eagle Management Program. “Cooperation from outdoor recreationists during the breeding season has been a major reason that the population continues to grow.” The bald eagle was federally listed as an endangered species in 1978. Nationally, the birds recovered enough to be removed from the list in 2007.

In December, Arizona bald eagles begin rebuilding nests in preparation for laying eggs. Bald eagles nest, forage and roost at the rivers and lakes that have become some of Arizona’s most popular recreation spots, and this time of year can be challenging for the birds. Game and Fish’s bald eagle management efforts are supported by the Heritage Fund, an initiative approved by voters 20 years ago to provide for wildlife education and conservation through Arizona lottery ticket sales.

People visiting bald eagle country can make an advance call to the local land management agency (Forest Service or BLM, etc.) or the Arizona Game and Fish Department to help them plan their trip to avoid disturbing bald eagles.

By following these simple guidelines, the public can help ensure that the state’s 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 many have daily NestWatch monitors. 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.
• 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/or 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.

The public 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.

Number of Breeding Bald Eagles in Arizona Grows

[Source: Gateway to Sedona] – With the bald eagle breeding season in Arizona coming to a close, the state’s population continues to flourish, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department. For the 2010 breeding season, three new active breeding areas were identified bringing the total number of occupied breeding areas in the state to 52. The total number of breeding adult bald eagles also grew to 104, which is the highest on record.

This year, under the careful watch of the Arizona Game and Fish Department and a coalition of 22 other partners that make up the Southwestern Bald Eagle Management Committee, 44 eaglets also reached the critical point of taking their first flight, an important milestone for a young bird’s chances of survival.

Bald eagle numbers over the past 30 years have grown more than 600 percent in the state.

“Identifying three new breeding areas in the state is a positive sign that our population of bald eagles continues to grow and do well,” said Kenneth Jacobson, Arizona Game and Fish Department bald eagle management coordinator.

The breeding season for bald eagles in Arizona typically runs from December through June, although a few bald eagle pairs at higher elevations nest later than those in the rest of the state.

The bald eagle program is supported by the Heritage Fund,
a voter-passed initiative that provides funding for wildlife conservation through Arizona Lottery revenue [to read the full article click here].

Scottsdale, Phoenix acquire trust land for preserves

[Source: azcentral.com]

Scottsdale and Phoenix were unopposed Friday in separate bids to acquire state trust land for their respective preserves, generating more than $69 million for the Arizona State Land Department.

The department scheduled the back-to-back auctions at its headquarters in downtown Phoenix.

 

Scottsdale succeeded in its bid for 2,000 acres in the Granite Mountain area of northern Scottsdale. The cost was $44.1 million, of which half will be covered by a grant from Arizona’s Growing Smarter conservation fund.

“These dollars are really only available for this use,” said Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, who represented the city in its winning bid. “It is perfect timing.”

Scottsdale has acquired and protected almost 18,000 acres for its McDowell Sonoran Preserve, with a goal of preserving 36,000 acres.

Phoenix was the lone bidder on 1,139 acres a mile south of the Carefree Highway and 4 miles east of Interstate 17.A Growing Smarter grant will cover half the purchase price of $25.8 million. The remainder will be paid by sales-tax proceeds from the Phoenix Parks and Preserve Initiative, city spokesman David Urbinato said.

Voters approved the measure in 1999 that raises funds to preserve thousands of acres of state trust land and build and improve parks. Sixty percent of the money goes toward purchasing state trust land for the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve. The city has 6,688 acres in total.

“It’s very rewarding to be able to come and add to our preserve,” said Councilwoman Thelda Williams, who made the bid for Phoenix.

Money generated by the auctions goes toward funding for public schools and other entities.

 

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Arizona moving to use conservation money before vote

[Source: Arizona Capitol Times, Paul Davenport] – Arizona parks officials and local governments in the Phoenix and Flagstaff areas are moving to spend up to $52 million of land conservation money that legislators envisioned being used instead to help keep the budget in the black.

The state Parks Board on Wednesday voted to award grants to Coconino County and the cities of Phoenix and Scottsdale for separate purchases of large parcels of state trust land for preservation as open space. The $52 million would come from a decade-old land conservation fund authorized by a voter-approved 1998 ballot measure that is now the subject of a new ballot measure that appears as Proposition 301 on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

Under the Growing Smarter conservation program, public and private entities can get state funding for purchases of trust land for conservation purposes. The purchaser must provide a match to the state funding [to read the full article click here].