OLYMPIA— A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) public access area on Lake Lawrence in Thurston County will be re-opened Jan. 9, allowing winter recreational boat fishing on the lake.
The public launch area was closed Nov. 1 in an attempt to reduce interference with bald eagles feeding in the area. The Department had planned to keep the launch area closed through March 31, as it did last winter, because of concerns that boat traffic could drive off waterfowl, a source of food for bald eagles nesting nearby.
Over the past two years some anglers have objected to the closure, however, because private launch areas remained open for boat traffic.
After reviewing the situation, WDFW biologists determined that bald eagles in the area are healthy and likely would not be harmed by reopening the public launch.
"Opening the launch makes the recreational opportunity the same for all anglers— whether or not they live on the lake," said Steve Jackson, WDFW district fish biologist.
The lake is popular for winter trout fishing and early spring bass angling, Jackson added.
WDFW wildlife biologists will conduct another survey of waterfowl numbers before re-opening the launch and will continue to monitor waterfowl populations to see if winter boat traffic changes waterfowl use significantly, said Kelly McAllister, WDFW district wildlife biologist.
Although bald eagles remain on the state and federal lists of threatened species, their status is improving, allowing protective regulations to be loosened.
"Bald eagles in this area appear to be doing well, so this is a good situation for relaxing our regulations," McAllister said.