GRDA protecting eagle nesting area below Pensacola Dam

Jan 05, 2021

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 also did in 2020. The area will be marked by signage, advising the public of the nest and that disturbing it is a violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which could result in a criminal fine of $100,000. 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 last year,” said GRDA Vice President of Corporate Communications Justin Alberty. “The GRDA Ecosystems and Watershed Management Department has been monitoring it and has confirmed it is active 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. The new “nesting area/no trespassing” signage designates the closure in that area.

“The public’s cooperation in obeying the signage and helping protect the nest was very helpful last year” said Alberty, “and we are seeking that same kind of cooperation this year as well.”

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.