West Alabama Birding Trail Launch

Contact: Ralph Antonelli, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, 662-327-2142

Set for September 21, 2012 at the Tom Bevill Visitor’s Center Pickensville, Alabama (Pickens County)

Dateline (Pickens County, AL; September 2012) – The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development is providing project management and oversight for a statewide birding trails project funded by the Alabama Tourism Department. Eight Alabama counties will come together on September 21 to launch the West Alabama Birding Trail. This trail, one of eight trails covering the state, provides easy access to Alabama’s natural wealth as bird-watching tourists become an increasingly important source of revenue for Alabama.

The official trail launch begins at 9:30 a.m. (central) on September 21 at The Tom Bevill Visitor’s Center, 1382 Lock and Dam Road, Pickensville, AL  35447 (Pickens County), bringing together local officials, civic leaders, school children and birding enthusiasts throughout the eight counties and beyond.

Highlights of the event include a Raptor Trek presentation by 4-H Program Coordinator Becky Collier that includes several raptors, including a Bald Eagle.  An expert birder will guide an adult bird walk and Lauren Chapman, Regional Extension Agent for 4-H for Hale, Pickens and Tuscaloosa Counties will lead a bird walk and scavenger hunt for children.  A Sun Safety Program will also be presented by Patti Presley-Fuller and Denise Shirley with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

The eight counties that make up the West Alabama Birding Trail include Bibb, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marion, Pickens, Tuscaloosa and Walker. Key partners in the West Alabama Birding Trail include Birmingham Audubon Society, The Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Cahaba Wildlife Refuge, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Moundville Archaeological Park, State Parks, the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development, and U.S. Forest Service.  The Alabama Birding Trail website, www.alabamabirdingtrails.com, offers detailed information about the sites and sounds of Alabama’s birding trails.

As a form of tourism, birding has seen significant growth both nationally and certainly in Alabama over the past several years. A typical birding enthusiast is older and well-educated with disposable income – just the type of tourist that we welcome to this area.  Alabama has perhaps the most diverse habitat in the Southeast, with over 400 species of birds.

Additional trail launches in the West Alabama Birding Trail include Moundville Archaeological Park in Hale County on November 3, with other events planned later in the fall at Brierfield Ironworks Historical State Park in Bibb County, Lake Lurleen State Park in Tuscaloosa County, and Talladega National Forest – Payne Lake Recreation Area in Bibb County.

The eight Alabama Birding Trails are an effective way to bring economic benefits to rural Alabama and provide a fun and educational resource for schools, churches, Scout troops, families, and birders of all ages. The Alabama Birding Trails offer the public a chain of eight geographic regions, Alabama Coastal, Alabama Blackbelt, Appalachian Highlands, North Alabama, Piedmont Plateau, Pineywoods, West Alabama, and Wiregrass.

The birding trails project is funded by the Alabama Tourism Department and managed by The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development.  Other 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.

Directions to the Tom Bevill Visitor Center From Tuscaloosa, AL

-Travel West on US-82 for 18.0 mi

-Turn left (Southwest) on AL-86. Travel 24.4 mi

-Turn left on AL-14. Travel 0.4 mi

-Turn Right on lock and Dam Rd. Travel 0.3 mi