Each year the U.S. Forest Service closes several rock faces in western North Carolina to recreational activities, including rock climbing, to protect the rare Peregrine Falcons that nest there. The 2018 closure is now in effect as of January 9, 2018.
Wildlife biologists in the state have been working since the 1980's to help recover Peregrine Falcons, which dwindled to only one mating pair in NC in the 1950's. Perhaps the greatest challenge to the recovery of the species is nesting success.
Peregrine falcons mate for life and return to the same site each year to nest. If the pair is disturbed, they will leave the site and may not nest again until the following year.
Avoid the rock cliffs in the following closed areas:
Appalachian District – Whiterock Cliff and Buzzard's Roost
Grandfather District – NC Wall and Shortoff Mountain (in Linville Gorge), Big Lost Cove Cliffs
Nantahala District – Whiteside Mountain
Pisgah District – Looking Glass Rock (north face) and Victory Wall
The Forest Service is currently assessing the presence of ice and any potential effects of ice and associated ice climbing on the timing and success of peregrine falcon nesting and fledging.