UA Economic Development Center Helps Launch West Alabama Birding Trail
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Bird watching enthusiasts from eight Alabama counties will come together Friday, Sept. 21, to launch the West Alabama Birding Trail, thanks to assistance from The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development and the Alabama Tourism Department.
The official trail launch will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the Tom Bevill Visitor’s Center in Pickensville. The event will bring together local officials, civic leaders, schoolchildren and birding enthusiasts from throughout these counties and beyond.
The West Alabama trail is one of eight Alabama Birding Trails that have been organized in significantly different geographic regions, including Alabama Coastal, Alabama Black Belt, Appalachian Highlands, North Alabama, Piedmont Plateau, Pineywoods, West Alabama and Wiregrass.
The UA CED is providing project management and oversight for the statewide birding trails project, which is funded by the Alabama Tourism Department.
The eight counties touched by the West Alabama Birding Trail include Bibb, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marion, Pickens, Tuscaloosa and Walker.
Highlights of the launch event include a Raptor Trek presentation by Becky Collier, 4-H program coordinator, featuring a bald eagle. An adult bird walk will be led by an expert birder, and children will enjoy a scavenger hunt and bird walk of their own, led by Lauren Chapman, 4-H regional extension agent. A sun safety program will also be presented by Patti Presley-Fuller and Denise Shirley of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
An additional trail launch for the West Alabama Birding Trail will take place at the Moundville Archaeological Park on Saturday, Nov. 3. Other events will be held later in the fall at Brierfield Ironworks Historical State Park, Lake Lurleen State Park and Talladega National Forest – Payne Lake Recreation Area.
Alabama has what is perhaps the most diverse habitat in the Southeast, being home to more than 400 species of birds.
The trails are an effective way to bring economic benefits to rural Alabama. As a form of tourism, birding has seen significant growth in the past several years, making its revenue increasingly important for the state. A typical birding enthusiast is older and well-educated with disposable income – just the type of tourist that Alabama hopes to welcome.
The trails also provide a fun and educational resource for schools, churches, Scout troops, families and birders of all ages.
In addition to the Alabama Tourism Department and the UA CED, agencies offering technical support include the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Birmingham Audubon Society, The Alabama Ornithological Society and local leaders within each region.
Other key partners in the West Alabama trail include the Birmingham Audubon Society, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Cahaba Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Moundville Archaeological Park, Alabama State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service.
For more information, including the sights and sounds of the Alabama Birding Trails, go to www.alabamabirdingtrails.com
Directions to the Tom Bevill Visitor Center in Pickens County (1382 Lock and Dam Road, Pickensville, 35447) from Tuscaloosa:
-Travel west on U.S. 82 for 18 miles.
-Turn left (southwest) on AL 86. Travel 24.4 miles.
-Turn left on AL 14. Travel 0.4 miles.
-Turn right on Lock and Dam Road. Travel 0.3 miles.
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.
CONTACT: Kristi Payne or Linda Hill, UA Media Relations, 205/348-8325, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE: Martha Whitson, UA Center for Economic Development, 205/348-7058, email@example.com; Ralph Antonelli, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 662/327-2142