Berry College Officials Move Stadium Location Out Of Respect For Bald Eagle Nest

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Berry College’s proposed stadium, Valhalla, is being relocated out of respect for the nesting site of Georgia’s most famous pair of bald eagles, college officials announced on Wednesday.

Officials anticipate that construction on the stadium will begin this fall and be completed by the 2015-16 academic year. Valhalla will be home to the Berry Viking football, lacrosse and track and field programs.

Berry’s bald eagles have become a nation-wide phenomenon. Two cameras send streaming video and have garnered more than 17 million views. Almost 60,000 “friends” belong to the Berry College Eagles Facebook page, making frequent comments, posting photos and keeping up with the latest eagle activities. Schoolchildren in classrooms around the world have watched the eagles daily since mid-winter.

The college had planned to build the stadium close to the Steven J. Cage Athletic and Recreation Center with convenient parking and access to the campus entrance. In the spring of 2012, the bald eagle couple chose to build their nest in a tall pine tree just off the major parking lot. Given the very public location of the nest, officials were not sure whether the eagles would return and actually use the nest. But they returned in fall 2012 and successfully produced two eaglets in 2013. A third eaglet hatched in February 2014 and took its inaugural flight this past week.

Given the unusual location of the nest, the college applied for a permit from the U.S, Fish and Wildlife Service, agreeing to shift the stadium to the south, provide additional plantings to serve as buffers and limit construction to the summer and early fall months when the nest was not in use. This spring, however, Berry officials had second thoughts.

“Everywhere we went, people were in awe of the eagles and grateful that we had set up the streaming video,” said Steve Briggs, Berry’s president. “The eagles are mesmerizing—better than any reality television show. And the truth is—we are entranced by them as well.”

The new site for Valhalla is a pasture to the south of Maple Drive, the service entrance to the college’s main campus. This location provides access to the Cage Center parking lots for use by fans as well as access for athletes coming from Richards Gym, home to lacrosse and football offices and training facilities. Maple Drive, which was damaged during a windstorm in 2011, will be widened as part of the project and a grass field will be added for track-and-field throwing events.

More than 80 percent of the funds for the estimated $6.9 million project have been secured with the remainder to be raised in coming months.

“Generous donors are making this facility possible, and we are ready to begin preliminary site work this summer,” said Brian Erb, vice president of finance. “Relocating the stadium requires re-working the site engineering plans and construction documents but this location will simplify the construction schedule and minimize interference with campus activities.” This location also gives the eagles a wide berth.

“We didn’t see the eagles coming,” said Mr. Briggs. “But they certainly knew what they were looking for in a college. It would be difficult to find a more fitting home for a pair of nesting bald eagles than Berry’s amazing campus. The eagles epitomize this place— both its uncommon beauty and its educational opportunity.”

With the world’s largest campus of 27,000 acres, the residential liberal arts college also provides a natural laboratory for studying animals and the environment.


Catoosa WMA To Stage Wildlife Inspection Check Points

Hunters planning to hunt at the TWRA Catoosa Wildlife management Area this season should be aware that wildlife officers may be staging several wildlife inspection checkpoints. Hunters passing through these checkpoints and their vehicles will be inspected for harvested animals, contraband, and illegal firearms and ammunition.   Hunters should stop at the area’s checking ... (click for more)

Fishing Report From The TWRA

Here is the fishing report from the TWRA: Dale Hollow: Fishing is slow. Water temperature is 80 degrees; water is falling. Bass: A few bass are being caught on shallow running crankbaits around shallow wood in the rivers. Crappie:   A few crappie re being caught on minnows around fallen trees. Bluegill: Several bluegill are being caught on crickets ... (click for more)

3 People Shot On Wilson Street; One Victim Has "Life-Threatening" Wounds

Three people were shot on Wilson Street on Sunday night, including one who was critically injured. At approximately 8:22 p.m., Chattanooga Police responded to 2300 Wilson St. for shots fired in the area. O fficers located two black males suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. O ne victim was transported by HCEMS to a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries. ... (click for more)

Jumoke Johnson Jr. To Plead Guilty On Selling Crack Cocaine

A youth who was in the news earlier as a teen who had been the first in his family to graduate from Brainerd High School and who found a patron willing to pay for his college education is set to plead guilty on Tuesday to a charge of selling crack cocaine. Jumoke Johnson Jr., who turned 21 on Saturday, dropped out of Miles College in Alabama after one semester and has been ... (click for more)

Conservation On Signal Mountain

The town of Signal Mountain appointed a working group to put together a conservation easement to protect certain of the town's park lands.  The members of the Conservation Easement Working Group would like to respond to concerns and comments raised about the town’s efforts to protect certain park land from residential or commercial development by granting a conservation ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Late Garden Walk

Due to a series of pressing events I didn’t get a chance to make my September walk through the garden until yesterday. It is normally my custom to take a stroll on the first day of each new month, looking for the orchids and onions that might appear, so I can award them to those among us who deserve one or the other. So before the temperatures drop, allow me to catch up: AN ORCHID ... (click for more)