Habitat Management and Monitoring
The Ferry Bluff Eagle Council’s Habitat Committee is the most active of all FBEC committees. With the main task of the group’s mission “to protect, maintain and enhance Bald Eagle Habitat in the Sauk Prairie area” we always have lots of work to do!
FBEC Habitat coordinates roost counts throughout the winter, we provide a myriad of educational talks and programs, and we work with land use issues as they arise – coordinating between landowners, local governments and other groups. Another major focus of our efforts during the 2001-2005 eagle wintering seasons was the Radio Tracking Project.
The knowledge of Bald Eagles’ use of the area that we’ve gleaned from all of this work has been utilized by many, from the Chamber of Commerce in Sauk Prairie, to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation as they constructed the four lane Highway 12 coming into the community, to landowners and residents concerned about the continued safety and health of our wintering eagle population.
The research FBEC has been doing is crucial to the continued presence of wintering Bald Eagles in the Sauk Prairie community.
Current Habitat Management Programs
FBEC Plans to Update Survey Documenting Economic Impact of Eagles
For the third time, Ferry Bluff Eagle Council (FBEC) is conducting an economic survey to demonstrate the economic impact of eagles and eagle watchers in the Sauk Prairie area during the winter season.
In the first survey in the early 1990s, economic returns to the local communities throughout the three-month eagle season were estimated at $772,000. Ten years later, the second survey estimated eagle watchers spent $1,144,000—a 20% increase adjusted for inflation.
During the 2014-15 eagle season, FBEC will oversee the third survey to determine if the growing trend is continuing. The increase in tourism shown in previous surveys parallels the comeback in the number of wintering bald eagles in the area, a clear indication of this wildlife management success story.
FBEC will work with students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to interview eagle watchers during the eagle season, collect the data, and analyze results. Besides the update for this season, the findings of all three studies will be compiled for an article to be published.
Sauk County Initiates Rails-to-Trails in SP
After more than a decade of informal discussion, Sauk County has formed a commission to develop the railway corridor through Sauk Prairie as a trail for bikers, hikers, and possibly other users.
Ferry Bluff Eagle Council (FBEC) has been approved as one of the stakeholders for the County Great Sauk Trail Commission. It will actively participate in the planning and development of the trail which runs from the old railroad bridge in Sauk City, through Sauk Prairie, and connects with Devil’s Lake State Park.
The proposed trail runs along the Wisconsin River and parallels some of the critical eagle foraging and perching habitat, including Eagle Island adjacent to Prairie du Sac. While planning has begun, transfer of ownership rights to the rail corridor still is under negotiation among the railroad, the State Dept. of Transportation, and the State Dept. of Natural Resources. DNR would operate the corridor under its rules for state bike trails.
FBEC has presented preliminary information about the eagles’ use of the space from the hydroelectric dam north of Prairie du Sac to the abandoned railroad south of Sauk City. It plans to continue to work closely with the Commission and seek options to intense winter use of the trail, including development of an alternative loop down Water Street during winter months.
Trail development is expected over the next 2-3 years. The County hopes the trail will connect with the bike trail running along Highway 12 out of Middleton and ultimately to the 400 Trail in Reedsburg and beyond.
Village of Prairie du Sac Water Street Development
A Biological Assessment of the Nonn Development on Eagles Wintering in the Sauk Prairie Area Presented June 2, 2006 by Ferry Bluff Eagle Council (pdf-2MB)
Cover Letter to Prairie du Sac Plan Commission on June 2, 2006, accompanying Biological Assessment (pdf)
FBEC Letter to Prairie du Sac Plan Commission re Nonn Development, dated June 25, 2006 (pdf)
Assessment/Guiding Criteria for Village of Prairie du Sac of Proposed Nonn Development and Other Downtown Projects presented 08/07/06 (pdf)
Presentation to Prairie du Sac Village Board, Public Hearing, August 22, 2006
FBEC Letter to Village of Prairie du Sac re Nonn Development, dated October 22, 2006
Articles Published in Local Newspapers
1. Assessing Impact: What Do We Really Know About ‘Our’ Eagles?
2. Eagle Distribution: Eagle Use of Sauk Prairie
3. Ice Data: Ice and Eagles in Sauk Prairie
4. Disturbance by Flushing: People and Eagles in Sauk Prairie
5. Impact: Is Adequate Mitigation Practical?
6. Habitat Use: Why do Eagles Concentrate in Sauk Prairie?
Figure 1: All Locations in Relation to Habitat Type
Figure 2: Habitat Use
7. Will Eagles Leave Sauk Prairie?
Figure 1: Winter Roost Count Chart 1988 – 2006
Figure 2: Active Eagle Territories 1973 – 2004 (WI DNR)
Figure 3: Locations of Radio Tracked Eagles Tagged in Sauk Prairie
8. What Eagles Provide Us: What Do Eagles Provide Sauk Prairie?