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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Visitors Flock to Regional Birding Trail

News to Know

by Shondae Brown




Birding is one of the fastest-growing leisure activities in the United States. With approximately 25 percent of the country’s population taking part in bird and wildlife watching, it is a pastime that generates millions in tourism dollars each year.

As part of the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail (PPBT) which launched last November, Randolph County will not be left out of the mix. The PPBT launched with 34 approved birding sites within the nine east-central counties that make up the trail. The nine counties – Autauga, Chambers, Clay, Chilton, Coosa, Elmore, Lee, Randolph and Tallapoosa – offer 3.5 million acres of birding opportunities. This trail is the fifth of eight organized trails that will ultimately cover the state as birding becomes an increasingly important source of tourism revenue for Alabama.

Randolph County will launch its portion of the PPBT May 10 with events scheduled for Southern Union at 10 a.m. and Wedowee Kiwanis Park at 2 p.m.

“As a form of tourism, birding has seen significant growth both nationally and certainly in Alabama over the past several years,” said Cotina Terry, executive director, Randolph County Economic Development Authority and a member of the PPBT steering committee.

“Statistics show that the typical birding enthusiast is older and well-educated with disposable income – just the type tourist that we welcome to this area. The variety in habitat that exists from north Alabama to the Gulf Coast means we have a tremendous range of birds that can been seen in the state and certainly on the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail,” Terry pointed out.

In Randolph County sites have been approved at Southern Union State Community College, Wedowee Kiwanis Park, and Fox Run on Lake Wedowee. Development of the trail will continue past the launch, with more sites being added over the next few years.

There are a variety of birds in our area besides the more common ones like cardinals and blue jays, and the birding trail offers the perfect venue in which to view them. According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the existing birding trails are used by thousands of birders annually.

“This birding trail is not only a valuable means of attracting more visitors to our county, it is also a great educational resource for our students and an opportunity for inexpensive family outings,” said Terry.

The trail offers various informational materials. Visitors can pick up a PPBT guide map at strategic locations throughout the county. Bird watching sites are listed, along with information about each site. The birding trails will include strategically placed interpretive panels, directional signage, kiosks, and walking trails. Visitors to the area may also consult the PPBT or Randolph County Chamber of Commerce websites to discover sidebar items or other places to visit while in the area.

The PPBT is just one of many regional options for outdoor activities. Lovers of the outdoors can canoe or kayak along the Tallapoosa River as part of a trip down the Alabama Scenic River trail, the longest recreational water trail in any single state in the United States. They can make stops along the birding trail as part of trips to popular destinations such as Lake Wedowee, Flat Rock Park, Cheaha State Park, or other day-trip options.

“We are excited about the potential for tourism dollars that the trail brings to our county,” said Terry. “We feel this will be a gateway to help people discover the recreational activities that are found in Randolph County.”











For more information on the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail, visit www.piedmontplateaubirdingtrail.com or www.randolphcountyal.com.


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