Bald eagle nest a touchy subject for new development

Kirtland Hills, Ohio — If horses ever will have the run of a new high-end planned community in Lake County’s Kirtland Hills Village, then American bald eagles will continue to soar above the proposed equine-related project.

In fact, the eagles are already homesteaders on a large piece of private property located within the village, edged on the north by Interstate 90, Ohio Route 615 on the west, and Chillicothe Road to the south and east as the pie-slice-shaped parcel curves back up toward the interstate.

The property is generally and locally known as the Jerome T. Osborne Sr. horse farm, a holding right out of a Kentucky thoroughbred estate. Nestled in about the center of the property is a copse of tall trees, including one on the grove’s western fringe that contains a several-year-old American bald eagle nest.

Some concern had been expressed to state and federal wildlife officials regarding the future of the nest and its support tree, given the scope of an ambitious proposal called the “Equestrian Dream.” This planned community, which still must jump through its own set of bureaucratic hoops before becoming a reality, could feature 12 five-acre home sites (the minimum required by the upscale Kirtland Hills Village code) built along Chillicothe Road.

Along with the lots and any homes, the development would feature a 30-acre “common area” where property owners could ride their horses.

Equestrian Dream is the brain child of Richard Osborne Sr., a well-known northeastern Ohio developer and the son of the late Jerome T. Osborne Sr.

Just where the American bald eagle nest and its support tree fits in any future development plans will require meeting strict federal guidelines. After all, the current eagle residents have legal squatters’ rights to the tree and its nest.

Consequently, the laws are very specific as to what can and cannot be done to a nest and any supporting structure as well as any disturbances within specified federal standards, says Deanne Endrizzi, avian biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest Region.

For more on this story, see the Nov. 10 issue of Ohio Outdoor News.

Categories: Ohio – Jeffrey Frischkorn

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