Caltrans to begin Dana to Downtown without Moving Eagles
Wednesday, January 02 2008 @ 02:58 AM EST
Contributed by: Anonymous
From the Record Searchlight On-line:
By Dylan Darling
Saturday, December 22, 2007
A bald eagle nest in downtown Redding is returning to nature.
Gone is the 3-foot black plastic cone that workers on contract with the state Department of Transportation had chained onto the nest late last month in an effort to convince a pair of eagles to find new digs away from what will be a construction site starting next spring.
“Now we just have to wait for the birds to come back,” said Craig Martz, environmental scientist with the state Department of Fish and Game.
One of the eagles was spotted in a tree across a pond from the nest on Thursday, but as of sundown Friday, it was unclear whether the pair had taken up residence again.
When the cone came down after 35 days in the cottonwood, champagne glasses were hoisted by members of an ad hoc group created to oppose the cone barricade. A half-dozen of the 15-member group watched the cone’s removal Friday morning.
“A toast to the power of the people, babe,” said Terri Lhuillier, leader of the unnamed group just after the champagne cork was popped.
The group met by passing messages to each other in the comments section below stories about the eagles on Redding.com. They met for pizza and planning Monday, which led to a meeting with Caltrans and DFG officials Wednesday at Caltrans’ Redding office.
At the meeting, Brian Crane, Caltrans district manager, announced the cone would come down. He said the birds showed they were locked into the area as a nesting site and the hope is they won’t give it up even when cranes and pile drivers move into the neighborhood.
With an already shortened calendar for construction because of salmon spawning in the river, the Dana to Downtown project could have been constricted to three months if the eagles weren’t moved, Crane said. The change would have stretched the project over six years instead of three and added $25 million to the already $66 million project.
Workers also pulled down sticks the eagles used to start a new nest 10 feet from the old. The workers also built a nest 3˝ miles downstream in hopes of enticing the eagles to move. They didn’t budge.
Now the plan is to go on with the construction even with the eagles in place, Crane said. The nest is close to Highway 44, the flight path for hospital helicopters and other commotion downtown.
“They’ve shown they don’t mind that kind of noise,” Crane said Wednesday.
Darla Tilley-James, who posts as “Prancer” on Redding.com, said seeing the cone removed showed that Caltrans has compassion.
“Now we know that Caltrans (officials) are humans and they like animals, too,” she said.
Under the guidance of DFG, Caltrans is working on ways to monitor the eagles and the impact of the construction, said Phil Baker, project manager for Caltrans. Central to the plans is a video camera.
“We are going to put up a camera above the nest,” he said.
Baker said the camera will be installed in January at the earliest.
Martz said officials hope the eagles can handle the construction and keep their nest near Turtle Bay once the project is done. The nest was built in 2005 and the eagles raised eaglets there in 2006 and this year.
“It’s not every community that has a pair of eagles nesting downtown — it’s a special thing,” Martz said.