Eagle’s nest slows down development project near Tobesofkee

pramati@macon.comMarch 1, 2013 

A bald eagle’s nest near Lake Tobesofkee is putting a crimp in a land development company’s plans in Bibb County.

Because of the nest’s location and federal laws that prevent removing an active nest, Knoxville, Tenn.-based LW Investments can’t develop up to 10 lots in a planned subdivision there.

Doug Furney, director of the Tobesofkee recreation area, said the nest was discovered a couple of months ago when the company got a permit to dredge the area.

“We went out a couple of months ago and realized there was a nest on the property,” he said.

Attempts to reach company officials for comment have been unsuccessful.

According to the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Natural Resources, if the bald eagle’s nest is or could be active, it’s protected.

“If a nest is there, the eagle could come back,” Furney said. “We don’t want to disturb it in any way.”

Furney said LW Investments got its permit to develop the property last fall. But once the nest was discovered, the company had to halt development there.

Jim Ozier, program manager for the non-game preservation section of the Department of Natural Resources, said federal guidelines stipulate that a primary perimeter of 330 feet must be established around the nest, followed by a secondary perimeter of 660 feet.

“It doesn’t mean you can’t do anything (as a developer), but you have to be sensitive to the (geographical) features out there to allow the nest to be successful,” he said.

Furney, Ozier and an LW Investments official met last week to discuss options. Furney said developers still are able to work without any issues in other parts of the development that are outside the secondary zone.

In the meantime, the company is scheduled to meet with federal officials to explore other options.

Ozier said the law protecting the eagle’s nest is an older law that came from the days when bald eagles were listed as endangered species. The bird currently is listed as federally threatened.

“It may slow (development) down a month or two,” he said. “But if there is limited exposure to (the eagles), (the government) is flexible. No one wants to see this become a big issue.”

Ozier said the company doesn’t want to disturb the nest.

“They recognize the value of having the eagles, and they don’t want to run them off,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a contentious issue.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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