When the Sullivan West School District stopped heating the Narrowsburg school in 2011, it brought an end to EagleFest, which had been bringing hundreds and then thousands of visitors and their dollars into Narrowsburg in the middle of the winter since 2002. Without the school as a focal point of activity, the festival disappeared.
Now a new celebration of the eagle will return to the hamlet in an as yet undecided weekend in February 2014, according to Lori McKean, founder of the Eagle Institute, which merged with the Delaware Highland Conservancy (DHC) in 2012.
McKean visited the Sullivan County Legislature on December 5, and gave an update on the merger and the organization’s activities.
She said the eagle event will not be called EagleFest, but instead Eagle Days, because she said there is no way the organization could start from scratch and immediately create the kind of event that the Narrowsburg community had created over a decade. McKean said the event will feature a raptor presentation at the Tusten Theatre, and a guided eagle tour.
She added that the Narrowsburg Chamber of Commerce is examining ways to “capture an audience” in the middle of winter.
Other eagle news
Kate Mitchell, the new development coordinator for DHC, who joined McKean in the presentation, said “One of the best resources we have is volunteers, and there are at least 50 people who volunteer for the eagle program.”
The eagle program now includes eagle tours which are offered to guests at various lodgings that have joined the Green Lodging Partners Program, which is an arrangement in which guests who sign on automatically add a $2 donation to their hotel bill to help protect the environment of the Upper Delaware Valley. Participating lodgings include Ecce Bed and Breakfast, Settler’s Inn and the James Manning House.
McKean also said the organization is having conversations with the New York Department of Conservation (DEC) about the possibility of moving the eagle blind that was built on Plank Road in the Town of Forestburgh. She said the blind is in a bad location, hidden in the trees in a location where eagles can’t easily be seen. She said volunteers don’t like to staff it because it is isolated.
Another initiative is the establishment of a new eagle observation area on Ten Mile River. She said, “There’s eagle activity there, there’s a need to educate people who go there already to watch eagles, so we’re going to staff it with volunteers on weekends and see how that goes.”
At one point, legislator Gene Benson said the he often sees eagles flying over and taking trout out of the Neversink River when he goes to work at the Fallsburg wastewater plant. He said, “I know we concentrate pretty much on the Delaware River; I’d like to concentrate on the other end of the county as well if possible.”
Mitchell said, “That make sense.”
Benson said, “There’s actually a DEC fishing area this side of the plant and you can see the eagles from there.”
McKean said, “I know, it’s actually very unsexy to do your eagle watching at a wastewater plant [remarks interrupted by laughter] and the plant is why the eagles are there; and that’s part of the education—it could definitely work.”