Thursday, March 30, 2023

Letter to the Editor: The Potter Valley Eagles’ Nest Still Stands, But Could Be Cut Today


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Remember opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of MendoFever nor have we checked the letters for accuracy.

A picture of the bald eagle in the Potter Valley pine tree [Picture provided by Keri Ann Bourne]

The day dawned slowly and colder than expected for this human, yet the eagles do not seem to mind a temperature that quickly made my feet numb even in boots and my hands virtually immobile. Breath would have come out in plumes if it were not for the blessed mask which gave my lungs some blessed shelter from the 35-degree pre-dawn morning.

A contact following this story all the way from Lake Wassookeag, Maine, tells me the eagles there withstand temperatures of “minus ten degrees with wind gusts to 20 {mph}” I’m extremely glad to be warmer than that today!

Upon arrival at the Ridgeway Highway property in Potter Valley, I immediately saw the nest. Nestled in the crook of a 120-foot Ponderosa Pine; a stunningly straight and towering display of splendor sat an eagle’s nest that to my untrained eye looked at least four feet in length. 

Kate Marionchild tells me that eagles’ nests are not deep as I expected, but more like platforms, despite the deep thickness of the nest material built layer upon layer.

This Ponderosa Pine has brown bark, a rich color very consistent throughout the entire trunk. Young Ponderosa’s, under 150 years old, have black bark. Ponderosa Pines live have a life expectancy of 500 years. 

Sarah Reith, reporting for KZYX, came to interview the property owner by phone and the tenant on location. Her experience is extensive on the issue of PG&E and cuttings on private land.

PG&E statement quotes “PG&E is working with the property owner”

The property owner said.“I understand that they are trying to protect against future fires… but I was only told about this on Monday {4 days ago}… who can really make an educated decision about this issue in three days?”

Biologist Chad Moura along with Family Tree was on the scene at 8:45 am when all in attendance witnessed a graceful eagle land in the tree. I asked Chad what the definition of active was, and he offered this explanation: “based on biological opinion, I am a licensed biologist with my company… a nest is active if birds are bringing nesting material, if they are laying eggs, or any stage of the nest-building process. For eagles and a lot of raptors, they sometimes come and revisit [the nest] and rebuild them up. You have to come back and do multiple surveys over periods of time.”

Family Tree coincidentally received an unknown call to leave the area and go elsewhere shortly after the eagle arrived at approximately 8:40 am and they and the cutting trucks left.

Biologist Chad Moura was on site until about 2 pm. He said the eagles do return usually about four hours after the first visit. They did not return while the biologist was there.

The day was spent fielding many calls and spending a good amount of time watching the nest. If eagles returned later in the day I was not present personally. I was heartened to receive word at 4:10 pm from Senator Mike McGuire’s office that their contact at PG&E said this project was on hold pending a review from Fish & Wildlife. My call to their media department for a statement was unanswered. 

Just 30 minutes later two unrelated sources claim that calls to PG&E’s Mike Best of the Aviation Protection Department were met with insistence that the tree would be cut on the 14th.

So elation quickly turned to confusion although we are just back where we started except with confirmation that many persons in support of the need to wait and do a better investigation into the nest will be attending the site tomorrow.

-Kerri Anne Bourne

Previous Coverage



  1. When not at the nest site the eagles can usually be found in the old digger pine (dead) tree on Van Arsdale Rd right by the dam the tree is on the Eastside of the dam. That is where they fish and hunt.

  2. Thanks again Keri Ann !!
    Excellent job at getting the word out to the public and thereby mobilizing the neighbors and those interested In
    As of Friday afternoon the Eagle Tree and Nest stand after a long day of negotiations with PG E, which ARE NOT finalized.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at if you know a story that needs to be told.

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