GUNTERSVILLE – Officials unveiled and cut a ceremonial ribbon to dedicate Lake Guntersville State Park’s newest feature, a picturesque eagle statue at the park’s lodge.
The statue, created by artist Jenny Hendrix and inspired by a photo taken by Alabama nature photographer Beth Cowen Drake, showcases an American bald eagle with a fish clasped in its talons. The fish represents the recreational fishing opportunities Lake Guntersville offers; the eagle spotlights the park as a premier destination for eagle sightings.
“This majestic statue showcases the beauty and power of an American bald eagle, a revered symbol of our great nation,” said Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “The statue has been in place for a short amount of time already, and we have received many positive comments from visitors to the park. It truly is a fantastic addition.”
Funded by a grant from the Alabama Tourism Department, the statue is the result of a true team effort – a meticulous two-year project including landscaping, lighting, signage, and sidewalks that create opportunities for great vantage points and photos for framing.
“The Alabama Tourism Department is honored to partner with Alabama State Parks and make this project a reality,” Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell said. “It’s always wonderful when state agencies can work together, and I couldn’t be happier with the final product.”
Eagle Awareness Weekends at Lake Guntersville State Park began in 1985 to highlight ADCNR’s bald eagle restoration program. A loss of habitat, pesticide use and poaching throughout the country had pushed eagle populations to the brink of extinction. From 1985-1991, 91 bald eagles were released throughout the state as a result of the project. Bald eagle sightings are more common throughout the state today thanks in part to these conservation efforts. Eagle Awareness Weekends continue at the park to showcase this conservation success story.
The ribbon-cutting for the new statute was incorporated into the agenda for the final Eagle Awareness Weekend at the park.
Eagle Awareness Weekends provide guests with an opportunity to participate in a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities available in the park, along with educational programs and live eagle sightings. With 6,000 acres of natural woodlands, an 18-hole championship golf course, a beach complex, hiking and biking trails, a zipline course, and access to premier bass fisheries, Lake Guntersville State Park provides a diverse range of activities.
Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein said North Alabama is fast becoming an outdoor recreation destination for many, and he anticipates the new statue will help them memorialize their visit to Lake Guntersville State Park with a photo.
“We have guests from across the county come to Lake Guntersville State Park every year, and this statue gives them something new to enjoy,” he said. “Whether visitors come for a day or stay with us for the weekend, Lake Guntersville State Park offers a vacation destination that showcases Alabama’s natural beauty and allows guests to experience it first-hand from the trails, on the water or just taking in the beautiful views from the lodge.”