On Saturday, December 1, the Delaware Highlands Conservancy (Conservancy) hosted a successful Volunteer Training Day to launch the first winter eagle monitoring season with the Eagle Institute as part of the Conservancy. The Conservancy also officially opened the Delaware Highlands Conservancy/Eagle Institute winter field office in the village of Lackawaxen.
In February 2012, the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, the region’s foremost organization for land protection and the Eagle Institute, the region’s premier organization for the protection of and public education about eagles merged in a "perfect partnership." Saturday’s volunteer training was the first to be held with the Eagle Institute as part of the Conservancy.
Volunteers ready
New and existing Eagle Institute volunteers attended the training session at the Lackawaxen Inn to learn about the Conservancy and the winter Eagle Watch program.
"The Board and staff of the Conservancy are thrilled about this new partnership with the Eagle Institute," said Greg Belcamino, President of the Delaware Highlands Conservancy. "We are dedicated to protecting eagles, protecting eagle habitat, and having everyone at the Eagle Institute and the Conservancy on board with this excellent partnership project."
Virginia Kennedy, Outreach and Develop.m. ent Manager for the Conservancy, spoke about the importance of people and wildlife sharing space: "It’s not people over here and nature over there—people, eagles, wildlife; we are all in this space together.
Habitat decimation, the destruction of healthy land and clean water, is the biggest threat to eagles and people in this region. The Eagle Watch volunteers are ambassadors to more than 6000 people who will be in the region viewing eagles, of the very important message that eagles—and people—thrive when the lands and waters where they live are healthy and protected."
Eagle success story
The Upper Delaware River region is one of the largest wintering habitats for eagles in the northeast United States, because of abundant clean water and large, undisturbed stands of trees. Twenty years ago there was just one eagle’s nest in PA and one in NY—now, there are approximately 200 nests in each state. This tremendous success story is a direct result of the hard work of the Eagle Institute and the community and organizations like the Conservancy that work for the protection of eagles and the healthy lands and clean waters of the Upper Delaware River region.
There was so much energy and goodwill," asserted Volunteer Coordinator, Patricia Diness. "The partnership has brought the enthusiasm of long time Eagle Institute supporters, along with new volunteers from the Conservancy and from the public, to the project of educating the public about eagles in our region. This will be a great winter eagle season."
Winter field office
Following the training, volunteers were invited to the Winter Field Office in Lackawaxen to officially open the doors for the season. The office space is generously provided by the National Park Service. All Conservancy Eagle Institute volunteers are signed up in the NPS Volunteers in Parks program. Because the bulk of the NPS visitor program traditionally occurs during the summer months, this partnership provides the NPS with volunteer support during the winter season, when more than 6,000 visitors come to the region to view eagles.
The Field Office serves as a center of information for visitors looking to learn more about viewing and protecting eagles. Visitors can pick up information about the bald eagle in the Upper Delaware River region, get maps and directions to eagle viewing locations along the Upper Delaware and Lackawaxen, and watch an informative video. Knowledgeable volunteers and staff are available to answer questions about the Eagle Institute and the Delaware Highlands Conservancy.
The Lackawaxen office is staffed on weekends throughout January and February and open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hours are limited in December, so December visitors should call before planning to drop by.
What they do
Superintendent Sean McGuinness of the National Park Service is enthusiastic about the partnership. "I am excited to be associated with such dedicated people from the Conservancy and Eagle Institute. These people and the volunteers who have joined talents will benefit the region by protecting land and habitat for eagles. This will also promote the economic vitality of the region through increased tourism. Our combined missions and goals will be stronger and through these partnerships, present and future generations of Americans will continue to enjoy the magic of the beautiful Wild and Scenic Upper Delaware River."
Since its founding in 1998, the Eagle Institute has partnered with the NPS and the New York State Department of Conservation to maintain two well-marked viewing areas in the Mongaup Valley on the Rio and Mongaup Falls reservoirs. These viewing blinds are also staffed by Conservancy-Eagle Institute volunteers on weekends through the winter season, and are great places to find information about eagles and to look through binoculars and spotting scopes to see magnificent bald eagles in the wild.
In the "perfect partnership" between the Eagle Institute and the Conservancy, the two organizations are stronger together. The partnership will lead to the continued resurgence of the eagle in the Upper Delaware River region and to even greater protection of critical eagle habitat.
Guided eagle tours
The Conservancy offers quality eagle education programs in Sullivan County, NY and northeast Pennsylvania, and in its first season in partnership with the Eagle Institute, the Conservancy will include a series of guided eagle-viewing bus trips planned throughout January and February. Reservations are currently being accepted for the following 2013 winter trips:
• Jan 19 – Climate Change Eagle Trip, Lackawaxen Field Office, PA, 10am-1p.m. : This eagle trip focuses on the impacts of climate change on regional wildlife, including eagles and their habitat. Reservations required: $12.50 per person. Call the Conservancy at (570)226-3164 or (845)583-1010 or email
info@delawarehighlands.org to register. Dress warmly in layers and wear waterproof boots. Bring binoculars, camera, snacks, and a bagged lunch.• Jan 26 – Eagle Tours with PPL, Environmental Learning Center, Hawley, PA, Two trips: 8 a.m. -11:30 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. - 4 p.m
Presenter Katie Lester of PPL will share information about how PPL’s hydroelectric dam has helped in the return of the bald eagle. Explore eagle biology, habitat needs and proper eagle-viewing etiquette. This free program will begin at the PPL Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center followed by a guided eagle viewing bus tour of the Lackawaxen River. Transportation provided. Dress warm. Space is very limited and registration is required; contact PPL at (570)253-7001 or
pplpreserves@pplweb.com to register.
• Feb 2 – Eagle Tour with the NEPA Audubon Society, Lackawaxen Field Office, PA, 10am-1p.m. : The guide on this bus tour will focus on eagle biology, our unique habitat, and how the eagles recovered from the brink of extinction. Reservations required; $13 per person. Call Bob at (570)676-9969 or email
jeanbob@ptd.net for reservations and information. Dress warmly in layers and wear waterproof boots. Bring binoculars, camera, snacks, and a bagged lunch.• Feb 9 – Eagle Tours – Sullivan County Lackawaxen Field Office, PA. Two trips: 9am-12p.m. and 1p.m. - 4p.m. : This trip focuses on Sullivan County, NY eagle habitat, including a history of the region’s largest and most critical area, the Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area. Reservations required: $12.50 per person. Call the Conservancy at (570)226-3164 or (845)583-1010 or email
info@delawarehighlands.org to register. Please specify whether you prefer the morning or afternoon trip. Dress warmly in layers and wear waterproof boots. Bring binoculars, camera, snacks, and a bagged lunch.
• Feb 16 – Eagle Tour – Marion "Becky" Finch Memorial Excursion, Lackawaxen Field Office, PA, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. :
Join the Institute to pay tribute to long-time supporter and volunteer in the most fitting way we know how: by sharing the awesome eagle watching experience. Due to generous donations by Becky’s friends and family, the fee for this trip is only $10 per person. Reservations required. Call the Conservancy at (570)226-3164 or (845)583-1010 or email
info@delawarehighlands.orgto register. Dress warmly in layers and wear waterproof boots. Bring binoculars, camera, snacks, and a bagged lunch.
The Delaware Highlands Conservancy works with landowners and communities to protect the healthy lands, clean waters, eagles and other wildlife, and locally sustainable economies of the Upper Delaware River region. For more information, please call (570)226-3164, (845)583-1010, or send an email to