Famed Carbondale-area eagle nest tree topples over

Megan Webber
Glenwood Springs Post Independent intern
A bald eagle make an air drop, a fish from the Roaring Fork River below, to eaglets in the nest that was perched atop the ponderosa pine at Aspen Glen for many years. The landmark tree toppled in a recent windstorm.
Aspen Glen/Courtesy photo

A large ponderosa pine along the Roaring Fork River north of Carbondale inside the Aspen Glen development that has been home to several bald eagles and their young over the decades, has fallen.

The tree has faithfully stood by the side of the river for decades, and prompted protections by Colorado wildlife officials when the Aspen Glen Club golf course and residential area was built in the early 1990s.

The tree was blown over by a windstorm late on the night of Sunday, June 3. It was well-known by residents and rafters passing by as the home of a family of bald eagles from 2003 until 2017, according to wildlife and club officials.

According to Aspen Glen Club Manager Dave Fiscus, there was not an active eagle’s nest in the tree at the time it was blown over.

“The Aspen Glen Club is deeply saddened by the loss of the tree,” said Fiscus.

The area surrounding the tree had been enclosed to protect the eagles from the nearby golf hole. Play was not allowed on the hole from the time the eaglets would fledge around June 1 every year until they could fly on their own.

The Aspen Glen community also paved a street named “Bald Eagle Way” when it was first developed.

“It’s kind of tragic, because it’s been an eagle’s habitat since the ’50s,” said Colorado Parks & Wildlife officer John Groves. He said the tree acted as a buffer zone between the area’s wildlife and Aspen Glen residents, and now that it’s gone, there is a potential for more development.

The tree fell into the river, and most of the debris flowed downstream, leaving a stump of at least 20 feet in its place. The stump still has branches and foliage, so there is still potential for future nesting by eagles or other wildlife, he said.

Officials said there is not much to be done as far as clean-up, but a legal team has been brought in to see what can be done as far as development. While the whereabouts of the previous eagle family are unknown, Fiscus said there is a family of eagles living in a similar tree near another golf hole on the Aspen Glen property. Whether or not it is the same family is unknown.