Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bald eagles benefit from our protection plan

Our Bald Eagle Protection Plan protects nesting eagles from disturbance, protects canopy trees for future nesting sites and offers financial incentives to members of the public who report raptor nesting sites on company lands. This plan supports bald eagle recovery in Wisconsin and Michigan, primarily in our Wilderness Shores Recreation Area – now home to about two dozen bald eagle pairs.

On distribution system projects, we evaluate records for known nesting sites. We also screen project routes for potential nests and nesting trees. If we find any, we develop a plan to either reroute the line or find another way to avoiding impact to nests.

On our hydroelectric project lands, we participate annually with wildlife and environmental agencies in monitoring known nesting sites, reporting new nesting sites and identifying nests that are either inactive or fallen. Our monitoring occurs while we conduct other survey work on the hydroelectric facilities. Agencies monitor activity in flyover surveys.

“We find some nests that are undiscovered during flyovers,” said Mike Grisar, senior consultant in our environmental department. “We report those, and whenever we have a project within close proximity to an active eagle nest, we work with state and federal agencies to ensure we have no impact to a nest.”

Grisar says that construction work within 1,500 feet of a nest is delayed to avoid active nesting periods. “We also conduct some selective timber harvests on the hydro project lands to aid in the forests’ long-term viability and sustainability. To protect the eagles, we create and maintain no-cut zones around the nest sites. Harvests are conducted outside the active nest period as well. Finally, some canopy trees are maintained and not cut to provide the habitat for eagles and other species dependent on these canopy trees.”

Wilderness Shores Recreation Area is located primarily along the border of northeast Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The area covers about 30,000 acres for 12 hydroelectric projects along the Menominee River system just north of Crystal Falls, Mich., to east of Amberg, Wis. About half the area is land and half water -- both essential habitat requirements to sustain eagles and their young.

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