Federal funding for eagles protects Barksdale resources Published Nov. 20, 2020 By Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The B-52H Stratofortress isn’t the only majestic beast flying around Barksdale; along the wooded banks of Flag Lake lives a family of bald eagles that benefit the upkeep of Barksdale’s vast natural resources. By housing and protecting the nesting and feeding grounds of the eagles, Barksdale receives special funding from the Air Force Civil Engineer Center for their preservation efforts. “Every year we get funding from the Air Force to help maintain Flag Lake,” said Mark Gates, 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron base wildlife biologist. “Without that funding, Flag Lake would be a solid green mass of nuisance vegetation.” For at least the past 15 years, the eagles have primarily fed on the fish of Flag Lake. In order to sustain that food source, it’s paramount for Barksdale’s Natural Resources team to keep Flag Lake clear of any and all invasive species. “We have four or five different problem species that we deal with. You take care of one and another grows in its place,” Gates said.“Keeping the water clear and open isn’t only a benefit to the eagles, but to our fishermen as well, because without those eagles there’d be no lake to fish in.” Gates also encourages boaters and fishermen to keep their equipment clean to aid in the mitigation of spreading non-native species. “Most of these invasive species of vegetation get transferred from boats,” Gates said. “If you have one little leaf fragment that gets caught up in the boat trailer, you go to the lake, put your boat in and it gets introduced.” Along with preserving the eagles feeding grounds, Natural Resources works in tandem with Barksdale’s Game Wardens to ensure the eagles nesting ground is also free from unwanted disturbances. “We ensure the eagle family is adequately protected against reckless development and other threats that can disturb their nesting grounds and affect their survival,” said Senior Airman Jonathan Casales, 2nd Security Force Squadron game warden. “If we do not do our part for conservation, some of the wildlife would cease to exist.” The nesting grounds are off-limits during hunting season and are rather difficult to access the rest of the year, however, Gates says the best way to catch a glimpse of the birds is to keep an eye on the trees along the banks of the lake as they like to stay perched high in the treetops. With the hope of preserving Barksdale’s bald eagles for generations to come, Natural Resources and Barksdale’s Game Wardens encourage every member of the Barksdale family to do their part for conservation. “Some small things outdoorsmen can do to help out would be to pick up trash such as old fishing line and lures around the lakes and waterways,” Casales said. “With the help of the base populous we can all work together to preserve and protect the natural resources Barksdale has to offer.” If you witness or suspect any suspicious activity, contact the Barksdale Game Wardens at 318-510-0309 or contact the base police at 318-456-2551. For more information on all of the hunting, fishing and outdoor opportunities that natural resources offers visit barksdale.isportsman.net or call 318-456-2397.