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Archive for Sunday, May 23, 2004

Eaglets disrupt golf course

Hole closed at private layout near Glenwood Springs, Colo.

May 23, 2004

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— For the first time in nearly 30 years, a pair of bald eagles has taken up residence in an old nest, hatching two eaglets at an exclusive golf course on the banks of the Roaring Fork River.

Colorado wildlife officials are calling the eaglets' recent birth a major milestone for the Roaring Fork Valley, where ongoing residential and commercial development is altering the landscape and encroaching on wildlife habitat.

The raptors' new home is perched in a ponderosa pine 50 yards from the 10th hole at Aspen Glen, a private golf course about 12 miles south of Glenwood Springs.

Honoring the terms of an agreement struck when the golf course was being developed in the early-1990s, Aspen Glen officials have agreed to close the hole near the nesting site through early July to ensure the eagles are not disturbed.

Aspen Glen Club general manager Jeff Teich said residents have been observing the birds through a telescope on a daily basis. State wildlife personnel are keeping an eye on the new residents as well to ensure the eaglets survive through the fledgling stage.

Bald eagles have used the Aspen Glen nest as a winter roost for years, but biologists have documented only two occasions since the early-1950s when the raptors have hatched eaglets there. The last time eagles nested at the site was in 1978.

Wildlife experts believe the eaglets' arrival is a sign eagles and other birds in the Roaring Fork region are adapting to life in close proximity to humans.

After years of decline due to pesticide use and other impacts, bald eagles are making a comeback across the lower 48 states. Each winter, hundreds of the fierce-eyed raptors fly south from Alaska and Canada to roost in Colorado, leaving the state in early spring.

Teich acknowledged that a few golfers are not exactly happy with the decision to close the 10th hole temporarily at the 18-hole Aspen Glen, which was co-designed by Jack Nicklaus.

However, the golf course spokesman said most Aspen Glen residents understand the move and have been supportive.

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