Thursday, 21 September 2023

Plan to cut down Potter Valley eagle tree on hold for nesting season

POTTER VALLEY, Calif. — A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit allowing a utility company to cut down a Mendocino County tree containing a bald eagle’s nest has been put on hold for the remainder of the nesting season.

Pacific Gas and Electric was prepared to cut down the tree last week until protests from the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, environmental advocates and community members intensified.

The company agreed to pause its tree-cutting plans, and then on Tuesday the Service and PG&E announced that the tree removal permit has been placed on hold for this nesting season until August.

“I’m glad the eagle protectors kept the chainsaws away long enough for the eagles to return to their nest,” said Michael Hunter, chairman of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians. “They’ve given us enough time to find a solution to this problem that works for everyone.”

The bald eagle’s nest has been active in this Potter Valley tree since the 1980s, and an eagle pair has returned to the nesting site this breeding season.

These majestic raptors are not only a national symbol; they also hold cultural significance to the tribal nation.

The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians has requested government-to-government consultation with the service to find a solution, but such talks have not yet started.

“The bald eagles are currently rebuilding their nest, moving in new branches and soft moss. We are thrilled that they have been given a stay of their eviction and hope to see young eagles leave the nest come August,” said Tom Wheeler, executive director of the Environmental Protection Information Center. “This outcome was only possible because thousands of people took action in the eagles’ defense.”

PG&E considers the tree to be a safety hazard even though a nearby power line has already been de-energized. One possible alternative to cutting down the Ponderosa pine snag is to place approximately 300 yards of the power line underground.

“This is a unique nest tree that calls for a unique solution,” said Peter Galvin, director of programs at the Center for Biological Diversity. “With so much habitat destruction, a successful nesting site is hard to come by. I’m hopeful that with all parties at the table, we’ll find a way to save this special tree.”

The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians is a federally recognized Tribe located in the heart of Mendocino County.

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