The Birds Are Back at Turquoise Lake
It’s nice when a plan comes together, but it’s even nicer when that plan has sustainable success, season after season. Such is the case for the bird’s nest platform erected back in August 2016 near the May Queen Campground at the west end of Turquoise Lake located just outside of Leadville. Last week, US Forest Service Wildlife officials reported that a pair of American Bald Eagles, and not the traditional osprey bird lovers have seen in recent years, moved into the nest in February.
Although bald eagles were officially delisted from the federal list of threatened and endangered species in 2007, these treasured birds are still protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Lacey Act. So to ensure that this nesting pair is given the best conditions to have eaglets, the Leadville Ranger District has issued a temporary closure for the Boustead tunnel access road and surrounding area. The closure is necessary to minimize disturbance to the birds this summer while raising their young and will be in place until July 31, 2019, when the young eagles are mature enough to fly safely on their own.
The closure only affects the Boustead tunnel road and the area around the platform. The May Queen campground and Butcher Boy day use area remain open to the public. Bird watchers are encouraged to use the day use area to observe these iconic birds from a safe distance. Though some eagles may become habituated to busy areas over time, this pair chose this spot in February, when the lake area was fairly quiet. With the influx of summer visitors, the people and noises surrounding their nest site changes the environment dramatically. If an adult eagle is stressed from too much disturbance, it could abandon or leave the nest for extended periods of time, causing the young to die of starvation or exposure. It’s important to give these nesting eagles as much quiet as possible their first year of nesting.
Additional information regarding bald eagles is also available online HERE or by contacting Jeni Windorski, Wildlife Biologist, at the Leadville Ranger District at 719-486-7421 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Turquoise Lake Campgrounds
As of today, May 28 the Turquoise Lake Campgrounds are not officially open and have not been plowed of a lot of late-season and historic snowfall in the area. In fact, forecasters predict more snow over the next few days, although at this point in the season, the fresh 1-2 inch dustings melts off the streets and grass pretty quickly.
However, recreationalists and campers should be advised that the access roads to these camping and viewing areas are not clear of snow in all cases, although visitor’s efforts could very well have changed that over the Memorial Day Weekend. During LT’s visit to May Queen Campground last Friday, there was still several feet of snow on the ground in some of the surrounding wooded areas. That didn’t stop the RVers from getting ready for the first 3-day weekend of the summer, even though the access road was a bit tight for two-lane traffic and overnight freezing temperatures and unseasonably cool day-time temperatures are not helping with the snowmelt. One hearty, well-equipped tent was also set up close to the traditional shoreline of the high-alpine lake which was still not full as the Fryingpan-Arkansas Water Diversion Project will continue to fluctuate water levels throughout the late-to-come spring run-off season.
Turquoise Lake is heavily visited, especially during the summer months. Reservations for those campgrounds on Turquoise Lake that take reservations are often filled early, especially for holiday weekends. Camping is only allowed in developed campgrounds in the Turquoise Lake Area. There is no dispersed camping available. More information and reservations can be found HERE.
Bird Background in Leadville Today
It was in 2014 that locals and bird watchers noticed that the decades-old osprey nest at the Valley View overlook area at Turquoise Lake had blown away over the winter. A favorite springtime ritual for many mountain folks, the return of the osprey meant that the seasons were (finally) changing. In response to the public’s sadness over the loss of the simple bird’s nest that brought joy to so many, and to help protect and perpetuate wildlife in the area, the Leadville Ranger District put together a plan. In August 2016, the US Forest Service with some help from a local Girl Scouts Troop and their fathers created a nest which was erected on a platform near the May Queen Campground, in an area a bit more tucked away along the Boustead tunnel road at the west end of the lake. The 90-ft utility pole was placed among lodgepole pines and the surrounding fir forest with some help from Lake County Public Works and Xcel Energy.
Here’s the Leadville Today video of the crews erecting the nest platform back in August 2016.
The hope was that the platform would encourage the birds to build a nest, breed, and increase fledging populations in the area. It was successful! Within the first year, an osprey mom was sighted sitting on eggs, with new babies are on the way! Since that first year, the osprey have returned to use the nest each spring. This year, there was a change in residency as a pair of American Bald Eagles were reported to have taken up residency in the Girl Scout made structure last February. For now, officials have limited access to the area to give these fine-feathered friends a chance to grow and thrive as the busy summer tourism season gets underway. Stay tuned for their progress and hopefully some cool eagle photos to come! You can always share your on LTs social platforms or email to email@example.com. #FlyLikeAnEagle. #TheEagleHasLanded