A few months into construction of a new apartment complex in Broomfield, a volunteer conservation group says two bald eagles may have left their nest.
Front Range Nesting Bald Eagle Studies has been monitoring the nest near Del Corso Park in Broomfield for two years. The group challenged U.S. Fish and Wildlife this year, urging them not to grant a so-called “take” permit to the developer of the new 200-plus unit apartment complex planned for the area.
Construction on that project started this spring.
“For the most part, the eagles seemed like they were tolerating things alright,” said Dana Bove, a volunteer for FRNBES.
Then in July, Bove said something appears to have changed.
“We saw some real distinct changes with the adult eagles,” he said. “What we’re seeing is that these adult eagles have basically retreated from their near nest area.”
Bove provided a graph of his group’s observations, which seems to show that the male and female who tend to spend a lot of time in that nest haven’t been there nearly as much since mid-July.
In fact, according to the data, the group only spotted the eagles near the nest twice between July 14 and July 27. The group’s graph also plots observations from a professional biologist hired by the city of Broomfield to monitor the area. That biologist reported seeing an eagle on the site twice in that same timeframe.
“It’s very rare not to see one of Stearns adult eagles here,” Bove said.
The group claims the disappearance coincides with more construction activity at the site within 1,000 feet of that nest.
The developer disputes that.
“The whole story has been a success story of developers working with the city,” said Ken Koziol, vice president for development for Garrett Companies, the developer behind Caliber Luxury Apartments.
Koziol told Next his company has hired a biologist to monitor the nest and that his company has halted construction at least twice because that biologist noticed signs that the eagles were disturbed.
“Every time that we see something we think may be an impact, we err on the side of caution,” he said.
“The primary guidance we’d look for is from a licensed biologist,” he said, referring to the data from FRNBES, a volunteer group.
The director of the City and County of Broomfield’s Open Space department said it will consider FRNBES’s data along with its own as a biologist makes a written assessment about the impact of the construction on the eagles.
But at this point, there may not be much the city can do. Technically it can only order construction to stop during a period between March and April.
“Technically we’re past the period where we might stop construction, might be able to do that, we have an ongoing discussion with the developer and the contractor and our biologist,” said Kristan Pritz, the director of the Open Space department.
Both the city and the developer point to the fact that a young eaglet was able to fledge from the nest as construction started this spring.
But Bove worries the two adults who appear to be bonded to the nest may not return, even after construction is completed and people move in to that apartment.
The biologist’s assessment is expected in the next two weeks.