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Contact: Bruce Connery, 207-288-8726
The closure orders to protect nesting peregrine falcons on three cliffs within Acadia National Park are being rescinded and trails at Valley Cove and Jordan Cliff (i.e., northern section of the Flying Mountain and Jordan Cliff Trails) will be opened on Thursday, June 28, 2007, Acadia National Park Superintendent Sheridan Steele announced today. The trails and cliff at the Precipice (i.e., Precipice and East Face Trails) will remain closed because of unsafe trail and cliff conditions caused by the earthquakes during the late fall (2006). The Precipice and East Face Trails remain closed until the trails have been restored and the area is determined to be safe for visitors.
The adult peregrine falcons that occupied these sites since March have failed in their attempts to successfully produce fledglings. These trails were closed in late-March to support ongoing recovery efforts for the peregrine falcon in Maine, which is listed as an Endangered Species under the Maine Endangered Species Act. Research has shown that nesting falcons are particularly vulnerable to human disturbance originating immediately above the nesting area or directed at the nest site. Continued disturbances can lead to chick mortality or complete nest failure, which further slows the recovery of the species in Maine. The closures of the trails during the nesting season has proven to be successful with more than 50 chicks fledging from the Precipice over the last 15 years and nearly 80 chicks from all cliffs within Acadia National Park. Biologists within Region 5 of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, of which Acadia National Park is located, who have been working on the recovery of the falcons in the Northeast, follow guidelines regarding the opening of nesting areas on cliffs.
The park biologist has determined that all original and follow-up nesting attempts at these sites have failed for the 2007 nesting season based on hundreds of hours of observations by volunteers and other park staff. The two major storms in April 2007 and subsequent cool and wet weather in early May are believed to have caused these failures at all of the nesting territories in the park. The park follows guidelines recommended by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife regarding the opening of nesting territories. These guidelines also recommend that territorial adults be given adequate time for re-nesting attempts in the event that the first nesting attempt fails. These guidelines and the field observations were used in making the decision to rescind the closure orders and open the trails and cliffs at Valley Cove and Jordan Cliff. The biologist expects the adults will remain in the proximity of the nesting territories throughout the remainder of the summer and into the fall.
Additional information about the peregrine recovery program and cliff or trail closures is available at the park’s visitor center and headquarters.