The Alabama State Parks Division of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources honored eight special contributors to the parks at the second annual Eagle Awards ceremony on Feb. 3 at Lake Guntersville State Park.
Parks Director Greg Lein awarded crystal eagle trophies to winners chosen through nominations made by the public in five categories: Youth, Volunteers in Parks (VIP), Park Partner, Community Partner and Elected Officials.
“Our state parks are such a great contributor to the quality of life in our state and we couldn’t provide all the services we offer without the help of thousands of volunteers who give of their time, their money and their support in many other ways,” said Lein. “Our partnerships are critical and these honorees are certainly worthy of this year’s Eagle Awards.”
Two members of the Alabama Legislature were recipients of 2018 Eagle Awards for their steadfast work on behalf of the parks system in general and their stewardship of parks that are strong economic engines in their districts.
Alabama Rep. Kerry Rich of Albertville has long been a supporter of the parks system and of Lake Guntersville State Park, located in his district. Rep. Rich was instrumental in the introduction and passage of the 2016 Constitutional Amendment that serves to keep parks’ funding from being transferred to other state agency budgets.
Alabama Sen. Billy Beasley of Clayton is also a strong advocate for the parks, in particular Lakepoint Resort State Park in Eufaula. Sen. Beasley has worked diligently with the Parks System for years, always striving to improve the parks that annually provide millions in tourist dollars to the state’s economy.
Eva Pendley of Foley, the winner of the youth category, was chosen for her willingness to assist with special events at Gulf State Park and volunteerism efforts in the nature center.
Jack White of Tuscumbia was selected in the VIP category because of his dedication to the implementation and construction of the Joe Wheeler State Park Disc Golf Course.
Two outstanding organizations were named winners of the Park Partner Eagle Award, the Lake Frank Jackson Trail Masters and the Alabama Wildlife Center at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham. The Lake Frank Jackson Trail Masters support the park near Opp by helping create the park’s walking trails, constructing a gazebo and installing electrical service in the primitive camping area. For many years, the Trail Masters’ “Scarecrows in the Park” promotion has been a must-see event in the region.
The Alabama Wildlife Center was hailed for its commitment to wildlife and the exceptional education programs it offers visitors to the park and to thousands of schoolchildren each year. The all-volunteer center is Alabama’s oldest and largest wildlife rehabilitation facility, founded in 1977. The AWC’s volunteers also offer wildlife education programs at many other parks in the Alabama State Parks System.
In the Community Partner category, the Shelby County Commission was recognized for its commitment to support projects and the many events that take place at Oak Mountain State Park.
Rocky Baker of Athens was also honored in the Community Partner category for his photography services at the Focus on Nature Photography weekend at Joe Wheeler State Park and his contribution to Eagle Awareness workshops at Lake Guntersville State Park.
Last year’s Eagle Award winners included state Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville), Sandra Burroughs of the Mountain Lakes Association and Philip Darden of the Central Alabama Mountain Peddlers (CAMP) for their leadership in ensuring the passage of Amendment 2 – the State Parks Amendment.
About Alabama’s State Parks System
The Alabama State Parks is a division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The division maintains 22 parks encompassing approximately 48,000 acres of land and water. These parks rely on visitor fees and the support of other partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations. Download the State Parks app at pocketranger.com. For more information about Alabama State Parks, go online to www.alapark.com. Partners Pay the Way.