The recent surge in bald eagle sightings in the greater Auburn area is good news. Not only are the once-severely threatened majestic birds a national treasure, but they are an important part of our ecosystem as well. That isn’t always the case. Deer populating suburbs, bobcats in backyards and mountain lions spotted in urban areas are signs of imbalance. But the return of bald eagles to the American River watershed shows a healthy trend in our ecosystem that must be further encouraged. Auburn Journal summer intern Megan Sanders, a Forest Lake Christian High School graduate now majoring in journalism at Sacramento State, found a diversity of people who support the eagles’ comeback when writing an article for Tuesday’s edition. Sierra Pacific Industries, a giant logging company with a big mill in Lincoln, has biologists who understand the importance of healthy forests. Bill Prior Sr., a hunting and fishing advocate and owner of Auburn Outdoor Sports, understands that some management is needed to protect endangered species like bald eagles and that some “hunters” are just as excited to shoot with a camera as others are to shoot with a gun. Noah Rucker-Triplett, an El Dorado County recreation supervisor, acknowledges that tourists who flock by the tens of thousands to enjoy local whitewater on the American River delight at the chance to see a wild eagle. Bald eagles are a part of the food-chain cycle and their reappearance is an encouraging sign, Steve Rothert, California Field Office Director of American Rivers Conservation told the Journal. “Bald eagles play an important role in terms of helping to retain and circulate nutrients in watersheds,” Rothert said. Fish are their primary source of food and Rothert said the return of bald eagles suggests there is a better supply of fish in the rivers. “American Rivers and our partners are working to bring back salmon and steelhead,” Rothert said. He also said that the eagles’ initial disappearance was symptomatic of a sick ecosystem and their comeback represents an improvement in that ecosystem. Jack Sanchez, president of Save Auburn Ravine Salmon And Steelhead (SARSAS), is working with dozens of other dedicated foothills residents to bring fish back to Auburn Ravine. “The salmon of California are … in danger for many reasons: global warming, pollution, poisons, man-made drugs, lack of fish passage and an overall degradation of spawning beds,” Sanchez wrote recently. “Part of the solution is not to argue for years but to open up California streams as soon as possible for salmon spawning. The SARSAS Plan (see www.sarsas.org), formulated for the Auburn Ravine, is the simplest way to save salmon and should be implemented on all streams within our state immediately,” he wrote. “If every stream were to have a volunteer group working to do what SARSAS is doing with the Auburn Ravine, that is, to return salmon and steelhead to its entire length and secure fish passage, adequate water and spawning beds, then salmon can once again thrive in significant numbers.” The return of the eagles is a positive sign. The nearby American River canyons and the scenic Sierra Nevada foothills we call home have much to offer in terms of beauty and recreational opportunities. Working together to protect our environment, and return salmon and steelhead to their former spawning grounds makes common sense and economic sense. The return of the bald eagles is a sign we’re headed in the right direction. Let’s keep the momentum going by valuing, protecting and caring for our natural resources.