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.


National Archery In Schools Program Subject For June Nature At Noontime

The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), will be the subject for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s June Nature at Noontime program. The program will be held on Thursday, June 2, from noon-1 p.m. at the TWRA’s Region II Ray Bell Building located in the Ellington Agriculture Complex. Don Crawford, TWRA assistant chief for Information and Education and the ... (click for more)

TWRA Officials To Attend Meeting In Regard To Kentucky Lake Crappie Fishery

Officials from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency are among those who will be attending a public meeting regarding the crappie fishery on Kentucky Lake. The meeting, requested by State Representative Tim Wirgau, will be held on Tuesday, June 14, from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Enoch Building at the Henry County Fairgrounds in Paris. TWRA fisheries personnel will attend to share ... (click for more)

Large Hole Develops In Lane Of I-24 Eastbound Over Chestnut Street; Emergency Repair Undertaken

A large hole developed in the I-24 eastbound bridge over Chestnut Street in Chattanooga on Sunday evening. Jennifer Flynn of TDOT said, "The hole is such that we are having to close a lane to protect traffic.  This will cause a significant backup in traffic, especially given the holiday.  "This is the same bridge, but different location that we recently did an emergency ... (click for more)

12 Lost Hikers Rescued At Rainbow Lake, Edwards Point

Eleven adults and a child were briefly lost at Rainbow Lake and Edwards Point trails on Signal Mountain on Sunday. A 911 call was made at 9:45 p.m. from one of the hikers reporting the group lost sunlight hiking out of the trails at Edwards Point. Th Signal Mountain Fire Department and the Walden's Ridge Emergency Services have responded to the scene to ... (click for more)

Parking Discrimination Downtown

Many taxpayers who reside in Chattanooga (but outside Chattanooga's core) feel left behind when it comes to neighborhood paving, sidewalks, policing, streetscaping, street sweeping, public transportation, and other services. Some think most tax dollars are spent on downtown and not in their neighborhoods. It's not as if they can't vicariously experience the largesse of downtown. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: One Nameless Ghost

One hundred years ago the United States was at war. The most intense fighting during World War I was on what was called The Western Front. The Germans wanted to invade France from the north and in order to do it, they had to push through Flanders province in Belgium. It has been described as a hell unequalled in raw hand-to-hand combat, In just four months on Flanders fields, ... (click for more)