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.


Bike Chattanooga Partners With The Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon

The Chattanooga Bicycle Transit System will be the go-to method of transportation for runners, their families, and support teams at this year’s Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.   Bike Chattanooga and The Marathon Planning Committee will promote the transit system as a way for competitors and spectators to access the event. ... (click for more)

Lookout Wild Film Festival Returns To Chattanooga 5th Annual Festival Set For Jan. 19-22

Lookout Wild Film Festival films will take viewers racing through Alaska, kayaking over waterfalls in Mexico, hiking along the Appalachian Trail, crawling through Aztec ruins, mountain biking through militarized Eastern Europe, and even visiting a homemade island in Canada. The fifth annual LWFF, an outdoor adventure and conservation themed film festival, will take place Thursday, ... (click for more)

School Board Turns Thumbs Down To Proposed Funding Of Central Track

County school board members on Thursday night expressed a number of concerns about a proposed $500,000 new track under consideration for funding by the County Commission at Central High School. The vote was 9-0 to table a motion to accept the money (if offered). Karitsa Mosley-Jones said, "We've got students at schools on a high priority list and you're going to give me a track?" ... (click for more)

School Board Approves 4-Year Contract Extension With Independent Bus Drivers, Who Say They Can Handle 100 Routes; Extension Given On Custodial Contract

The county school board on Thursday night extended the contract by four years of school bus owner operators, who said they could deliver on 100 bus routes. The board delayed until a special meeting at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Central High School the issue of whether to accept the offer of 100 contract routes. That would be handled by many of the current 49 owner operators taking ... (click for more)

Bikers Need To Have Licenses And Insurance - And Response

I am okay with Haslam’s idea of raising the gas tax and lowering the food tax.  But, I want to see a tax of bicycles since they have their own lanes now and they also have to be maintained. How much revenue would that bring in?  I would think if we have enough bike riders to have the lanes in the first place, there must be enough to generate some money for road improvements. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Where Is Central’s Auditorium?

I am surely one of the biggest proponents of high school athletics there is, especially after half a decade of being an eye witness to the vast array of lessons that are learned every day by anyone associated with sports. That said, I have watched the Hamilton County Commission waffle on a $500,000 track at Central High School with a certain curiosity because the same high school ... (click for more)