GRDA once again establishes eagle nest buffer zone below Pensacola Dam

Jan 13, 2023

The GRDA Ecosystems and Watershed Management Department is reporting that there is new activity in an eagle’s nest, like this one, in an area below Pensacola Dam. That same nesting area has been used by eagles for several years now and GRDA is reminding the public of an established buffer zone around the nest.

New activity in an established bald eagle nest, located in an area below the Pensacola Dam main spillway, has prompted the Grand River Dam Authority to close access to the area, as it has done in previous years. A portion of the spillway area, popular as an off-roading destination, will also be closed to visitors to help protect the nest.

“This is the same nest that was established in 2020 and the nesting pair has been raising a baby bald eagle at this location each year since,” said GRDA Corporate Spokesperson Justin Alberty. “The GRDA Ecosystems and Watershed Management Department has been monitoring the area and recently confirmed activity in the nest again this year.”

Guidelines, established by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, recommend closing access around nests to allow for a buffer zone of 330 to 660 feet between the nest and public access, depending on exact locations and topography. The restricted area below Pensacola Dam is centered approximately three-quarters of a mile south of the main spillway. “Nesting area/no trespassing” signage designates the closure in that area as well as yellow perimeter tape and or orange fence barriers. Disturbing a nest is a violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which could result in a criminal fine of $100,000.

“We’re asking for the same type of great cooperation the public has shown in previous years, by giving the nest a wide berth and obeying the signage,” said Alberty. “In the past that cooperation has been a big help in protecting the nest and allowing for shared usage between visitors and wildlife.”

For those interested in viewing the eagle activity below the dam, GRDA recommends doing so from the designated “Eagle Pass” area, located on the west side of the spillway channel. To access “Eagle Pass,” follow Broadway Avenue south out of Langley to N4475 Road, the road that runs below Pensacola Dam. Go east on N4475 until a bridge is crossed, then turn right (south) onto the dirt road and follow it around to the eagle viewing areas.

Bald eagles will hunt small fish, often snatching them off the surface of the water or even stealing them from other birds. The best time to watch the birds feeding is early in the morning.