Rock faces closed for peregrine falcon protection

Nine rock faces in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests will be closed to climbing, rappelling, hang-gliding and other activities through Aug. 15 in order to protect the rare peregrine falcons that nest there. 

Closed rock faces are: 

  • Nantahala District – Whiteside Mountain and Pickens Nose (east face)
  • Pisgah District – Looking Glass Rock (north face) and Cedar Rock (north face, Morning Glory portion)
  • Appalachian District – Whiterock Cliff and Buzzard’s Roost
  • Grandfather District – N.C. Wall and Shortoff Mountain (in Linville Gorge), Big Lost Cove Cliffs.

Wildlife biologists in North Carolina have been working since the 1980s to help peregrine populations recover after they dwindled to just one mating pair in North Carolina in the 1950s. Nesting success is perhaps the greatest challenge to species recovery — peregrine falcons mate for life and return to the same site each year for nesting. If a pair is disturbed, they will leave the site and may not nest again until the following year. Disturbance can also prompt young chicks that have not yet learned to fly to run off the edge of the cliff to escape. 

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and Southern Appalachian Raptor Research monitored the falcons in 2017. As a result, Victory Wall in the Pisgah Ranger District will not be closed this year. However, sections of Cedar Rock and Pickens Nose have been added to the list of closed sections. 

The Forest Service is currently assessing whether ice climbing has any impact on the timing and success of peregrine falcon nests. 

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