DEEP: Southern End of the Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail Will Be Closed through June 2017

2017 Press Releases
 
 
April 3, 2017
 
 
Southern End of the Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail
Will Be Closed through June 2017
 
Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) today announced that the southern end of the popular Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail will be closed through June 2017 to protect a pair of nesting bald eagles.

“While eagles continue to expand their nesting territories throughout the state, they are threatened by human disturbance near their nests,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen. “Closing the trail gives the birds the best chance of a successful nesting season.”

This eagle pair has nested along the canal trail since 2011 and successfully fledged chicks in all years except 2012 and 2013. In their four successful years at this site, the eagles have produced five chicks. “The birds have been in the area all winter,” said Jenny Dickson, a DEEP Wildlife Division Biologist. “They did a little repair work on the nest and laid their first egg in late February.”
The DEEP Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail is formed from a historic towpath built to allow boats to bypass the Enfield rapids in the Connecticut River. The rapids provide a shallow area that is perfect for the bald eagles to find their preferred food of fish, and they can be seen along the river year-round.

Ahlstrom Nonwovens LLC maintains a lease agreement with the State of Connecticut to allow public access to the tow path. “We are glad to see that the eagles are back, and we are also happy to continue to provide access along this historic pathway so that the community can take in the beautiful views of the Connecticut River,” said Jim Fritsche, Plant Manager of the Ahlstrom Windsor Locks facility. “Ahlstrom understands the important intersection between the environment and industry and practices sustainable manufacturing principles to ensure a minimum environmental impact.”

DEEP will keep the southern end of the trail closed only until the young eagles have fledged, or left the nest, which is anticipated to be in late June 2017. During the closure, visitors can still walk or bike the three-and-a-half miles from the northern entrance at the end of Canal Road in Suffield to the closure.

Once in decline due to the effects of pesticides, nesting bald eagles returned to Connecticut in 1992 after an absence of almost 50 years. Bald eagles are protected by Connecticut General Statute 26-934, the federal Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The DEEP Wildlife Division has published a fact sheet on bald eagles, which is available on the DEEP website at https://www.ct.gov/deep/wildlife.