Eagle Awareness Weekends at Guntersville State Park

The Tennessee River is a winter magnet for bald eagles, attracting dozens of majestic birds from their summer homes further north as ice sets in and fish and waterfowl become hard to find.

Lake Guntersville State Park will once again host its popular Eagle Awareness Weekends from January through February 2022, according to a statement from Alabama State Parks.

Events will include live bird demonstrations, programs led by expert speakers, and guided field trips to observe eagles in their natural habitat.

Eagle Awareness Weekends began in 1985 to coincide with a bald eagle restoration program in Alabama. Habitat loss, the use of pesticides and poaching have pushed eagle populations to the brink of extinction nationwide. The Alabama Restoration Project began in 1984 with the Nongame Wildlife Program of Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

From 1985 to 1991, 91 bald eagles were released statewide. Today, bald eagles are more common in Alabama than in previous decades.

This year, four Eagle Awareness weekends will be available early 2022 – January 21-23; January 28-30; February 4-6; and from February 11 to 13.

Each weekend will begin on Friday evening with a social event and wine tasting, followed by an educational session on eagles in Alabama and a presentation by a naturalist from Alabama State Park. Saturday’s agenda includes more sessions by renowned conservation experts, guided field trips to search for eagles, raptors and waterfowl in the wild, and ends with a buffet dinner. Sunday ends the weekend with further guided excursions, an educational program and a photo op with live birds.

Packages are available that include overnight accommodations, buffet breakfast, Saturday evening group dinner and wine tasting by Jules J. Berta Vineyards. Participation is limited to package holders and tickets will be sold for Saturday (programs only) subject to availability.

For more information on event schedules, Eagle Awareness packages or to make reservations, visit www.alapark.com/lake-guntersville-state-park or call 256-571-5440.

Nominations for the Eagle Award are now open

The Alabama State Parks Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will once again honor special contributors to parks with its prestigious Eagle Awards, according to a statement from the agency.

Nominations for the Sixth Annual Eagle Awards are open online at alapark.com/eagle-awards and awards will be presented in five categories: Elected, Community Partner, Park Partner, Parks Volunteer (VIP) and Youth (Students 12th grade and younger). The deadline for submitting applications is Tuesday, January 4, 2022.

“Everyone in the Alabama State Parks Division understands that our parks could not shine without the help of individuals and groups who help us throughout the year,” Greg Lein, Principal parks. “It’s a challenge to select the Eagle Award winners each year because we have so many people who give so much of themselves to help parks thrive, but it’s always wonderful to honor them at a Eagle Awareness Weekend at Lake Guntersville State Park. “

Here is a brief description of the Eagle Awards categories:

Chosen: This award honors an elected official who has worked collaboratively with parks to help them fulfill their mission of preserving natural areas, operating recreational facilities, and expanding the public’s knowledge of the natural environment of the ‘State.

Community Partner: Parks succeed through the cooperation and support of community organizations such as other government agencies, chambers of commerce, tourism organizations and local businesses – groups who understand that the success of the park is synonymous with success for the community. community.

Park Partner: Organizations strive to provide or maintain amenities in parks, such as hiking and biking trails, that might not otherwise exist due to the allocation of resources for others services. This award celebrates partners who see a need and work with park leaders to meet it.

Park Volunteering: These VIPs work in a variety of ways to improve our park system. Volunteers can provide physical labor or strategic planning to improve a park or the entire park system.

Young people: Our parks inspire young and old, but the impression left on young people often accompanies them forever. Many turn their love of parks, the outdoors, into projects to benefit some of their favorite places – often as part of a Scouting program. This award, for students of grade 12 and under, honors the person whose contribution is extraordinary.

Winners will be honored during the Eagle Awareness Weekend scheduled for January 28-30, 2022 at Lake Guntersville State Park.

Big Buck Black Belt Photo Contest

The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association (ALBBAA) 10th Annual Big Buck Photo Contest is officially underway and will run until Feb. 10, 2022, according to an ALBBAA release.

“Over the past decade, we’ve run this contest to highlight the long seasons, healthy populations and the big bucks that the bountiful Black Belt region is famous for,” said Pam Swanner, Director of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association. “We encourage experienced hunters and those new to the sport to explore our woods for an unforgettable adventure and to enter the competition. “

The winner of the contest is selected by online voting.

To enter the competition, hunters must upload a photo of a male harvested from the 23-county black belt region at https://alabamablackbeltadventures.org/bigbuckphotocontest. The billy goat must be harvested during the 2021-2022 white-tailed deer season. Photo contest winners from the previous two years are not eligible.

The contestant who receives the most votes online by the end of the season in February will receive a $ 500 gift card donated by Jonathan Goode and Southeastern Land Group, sponsors of the contest.

The black belt includes the counties of Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox.

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