Some hiking cliffs are closed for falcons

MONTPELIER — Hiking Vermont’s hillsides is a great way to enjoy a spring day, but the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and Audubon Vermont recommend people check to see if the area they are planning to hike or climb is open. In addition to the many trails that are currently closed to reduce impacts during mud season, several cliff areas are closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons.

Biologists and community scientists are just now identifying which cliffs are occupied by peregrines this year, and not all sites have been visited to date. Once closed, these sites will remain closed until Aug. 1 or until Fish and Wildlife determines the risk to nesting falcons has passed. As sites are visited in April, and if nesting falcons choose new sites, additional sites may be added to the closed list on Fish and Wildlife’s website.

In Addison County, these sires include:

• Deer Leap (Bristol): cliff-top and climbing closed.

• Mt. Horrid (Rochester): Great Cliff overlook closed.

• Rattlesnake Point (Salisbury):  southern overlook closed.

• Snake Mt. (Addison): entire western trail closed.

If you are making plans for hikes elsewhere in Vermont, these sites area also closed:

• Bolton Notch (Bolton): UUW cliff — cliff access and climbing closed.

• Bone Mountain (Bolton): portions closed to climbing.

• Eagle Ledge (Vershire): closed to hiking and climbing.

• Fairlee Palisades (Fairlee): cliff-top closed.

• Marshfield Mt. (Marshfield): portions closed to climbing.

• Nichols Ledge (Woodbury): cliff-top and climbing closed.

• Prospect Rock (Johnson): cliff-top overlook and climbing closed.

• Red Rocks Park (S. Burlington): southern cliff access closed.

“Peregrine falcons are very sensitive to human presence during their breeding season, so we ask climbers and hikers to please maintain a respectful distance from their nests,” said Wildlife Diversity Program Manager Rosalind Renfrew with Fish and Wildlife. “The areas closed include the portions of the cliffs where the birds are nesting and the trails leading to cliff tops or overlooks.” 

Audubon Vermont conservation biologist Margaret Fowle works with volunteers and other conservation professionals to monitor the sites throughout the nesting season. 

“Peregrine falcons were removed from Vermont’s endangered species list in 2005, and the population continues to thrive thanks to the efforts of our many volunteers and partners,” said Fowle. “In many cases the lower portions of the trails remain open, and we encourage people to enjoy watching peregrine falcons from a distance that requires using binoculars or a spotting scope.” 

What you can do to help Vermont peregrines:

• Respect cliff closures, and retreat from any cliff where you see peregrines.

• Report any disturbance of nesting peregrines to your local State Game Warden.

• Report any sightings to Margaret Fowle at [email protected]

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