By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER
Nesting American bald eagles were found on Stanislaus National Forest earlier this year.
The U.S. Forest Service made the announcement yesterday. This is the first pair of nesting eagles the forest has seen in 40 years.
"We're proud that our national symbol, the American bald eagle, is starting to nest," said Summit District Ranger Karen Caldwell.
The bald eagle is federally protected and listed under the Endangered Species Act as "threatened." Once endangered, the bird was nearly wiped out by habitat destruction, hunters and poisoning by DDT a type of fertilizer now illegal in the United States.
Fewer than 30 pairs of bald eagles lived in California in the 1960s. About 150 nests sit in the Golden State today.
Now the eagle has returned to its historic habitat in the Sierra Nevada.
The two birds built their home on the Summit Ranger District near Beardsley Reservoir, said Jerry Snyder, spokesman for the Stanislaus.
Beardsley Road, closed in December for the winter, will remain closed until March to protect the nation's mascots.
Forest Service officials are working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Tri-Dam Project officials the utilities district that manages Beardsley Reservoir to protect the raptors and allow the pair to hatch and raise eaglets in peace.
Summit Ranger District interpreters plan to offer programs for eagle viewing in May. Until then, the Forest Service encourages visitors to view the pair from about 1,300 feet away and report any sightings to the Summit Ranger District.