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Bird Conservation

Eagle management by Luke AFB: Developing an adaptive strategy to manage low-level military airspace to comply with the Bald & Golden Eagle Protection Act


Tiffany Shepherd, Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Air Force, 56th Range Management Office, Luke AFB:


Luke Air Force Base (AFB) manages a large portion of military special activity airspace within Arizona, and this airspace overlies breeding areas of the Golden Eagle (<span style="font-size: 10.5pt; line-height: 14.98px; font-family: &quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, sans-serif; color: rgb(68, 68, 68); background: rgb(252, 252, 252);">Aquila chrysaetos</span>) and Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), species which are federally protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Increased survey efforts in Arizona over the last decade have discovered a large number of previously unknown Golden Eagle breeding areas, including under military airspace. The 56th Range Management Office (RMO), who manages Luke AFB airspace, had historically observed a 2,000 ft lateral and vertical avoidance buffer around Bald and Golden Eagle breeding areas during the nesting season. However, with the newly discovered large number of breeding areas, the 56 RMO was unable to continue to meet pilot low-level training requirements while adhering to a 2,000 ft buffer for each breeding area. This presentation will provide an overview of the process taken by 56 RMO from 2019-2021 to establish an updated airspace avoidance strategy to meet pilot training requirements while complying with BGEPA. The presentation will include a discussion of background, coordination with regulators, specifics of the 56 RMO management strategy, and the implementation process.

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