Trail Repair Along Lake Natoma Delayed by Bald Eagles

ORANGEVALE -- Repairs along a popular stretch of trail on the Orangevale side of Lake Natoma may take longer than expected now that a couple of bald eagles have returned to the area.

Heavy rains last winter sent soil and boulders crashing down onto the popular hiking and biking trail within the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. Many joggers and cyclists have been going around the posted warning signs and barriers, climbing over the rocks and landslide debris, frustrated that it all hasn't been removed from the trail.

Repairs have been taking some time because of the environmental sensitivity of the area. The repair process involves both state and federal environmental reviews and geotechnical surveys of the soil before the heavy lifting can begin.

The presence of bald eagles now adds to the delay.

Observers say the eagle pair started building a nest at Lake Natoma last week.

According to the state park, the eagles have been there before. They had eaglets, and when the youngsters left the nest over the summer, the parents flew off.

Now that the federally-protected birds are back building a new nest, it would be illegal to do anything to disturb them. That's why bringing in heavy machinery to move boulders is off the table for the time being.

State Park Superintendent Rich Preston looks on the bright side, seeing the birds' presence as a privilege.

"Yeah, absolutely, I think it's a great asset," Preston told FOX40. "And we'll continue to build that population of eagles here locally."

Preston said environmental reviews and geotechnical studies may still move forward.

"There may be some buffers that we'll have to stay away from in the area where the eagles are at," Preston explained. "But we should be able to do some of the work further away from the eagles."

With the bald eagles nesting in the area, the noisy clearing of the path likely will not happen until next summer. In the meantime, Preston is asking visitors to be quiet and respectful, "ensuring that the public steers clear of the nest when it's active so that we don't lose this opportunity in the future."