Nine rock faces in North Carolina national forests will be closed to recreational activities through Aug. 15 in order to protect rare peregrine falcons’ nests, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Peregrine falcons typically nest on tall cliff ledges, and the Forest Service warns that disturbing prohibited areas may cause peregrine falcons to abandon their usual nest sites and potentially fail to nest until the following year. Additionally, newly hatched falcon chicks who cannot yet fly may run off cliff edges to escape danger.
North Carolina wildlife biologists have been working to restore peregrine falcon populations since the 1980s, and nesting success may be one of their greatest challenges to population recovery, according to the agency’s January announcement.
The new restrictions, updated after falcon monitoring in 2017, will be in effect from Jan. 15 through Aug. 15 every year through 2020, when the closings will be reevaluated.
Closed rock faces include: Whiterock Cliff and Buzzard’s Roost in the Appalachian ranger district, N.C. Wall and Shortoff Mountain and Big Lost Cove Cliffs in the Grandfather district, Pickens Nose (east face) and Whiteside Mountain in the Nantahala district, and the north faces of Looking Glass Rock and Cedar Rock in the Pisgah district. — Ashley Goodman