Schoharie County Eagle Trail opens October 17


By Patsy Nicosia

SEEC and local wildlife photographer and emerging eagle expert Bill Combs Jr. will guide an afternoon of wildlife and eagle viewing at the Franklinton Vlaie at 2pm on Saturday, October 17 when he introduces the Schoharie County Eagle Trail.
The event is intended for beginner to avid birders or photographers, wildlife enthusiasts and others interested in the developing Eagle Trail, an effort meant to spur future economic activity.
Mr. Combs will share general eagle knowledge and the collection of eagle photographs he’s collected over five years of study.
His presentation will be followed by a discussion of the proposed Schoharie County Eagle Trail, local observation points, hot spots and the anticipated launch in the spring.
“The main goal of mine is to inform anyone I can of the eagles we have in our area, “ Mr. Combs said. “They’re magnificent birds, and all should get to enjoy them.”
The Franklinton Vlaie, a DEC-designated wildlife viewing area off Route 145 in the Town of Broome, where nature photography is encouraged, is one of the proposed Eagle Trail observation points.
“The Vlaie is particularly good in the fall because eagles are hunting frequently to prepare for winter,” Mr.Combs said. “Being so plentiful with fish, this body of water is a favorite for eagles here in the county.”
The October 17 event will take place at the north end of the Vlaie.
Sterling Insurance has become one of Mr. Combs’ favorite spots for taking photos and videos of the local birds.
“Bill is very knowledgeable on the eagles in our county and he wants to spread that information to others,” said Steve Harris, president and CEO of Sterling Insurance and a founding SEEC Board Member.
Mr. Harris is also a major supporter of the proposed Schoharie County Eagle Trail project and has been instrumental in pushing it forward.
“I see this as a great project for the county,” he said. “Once the Eagle Trail is able to take flight I can see it helping tourism, bringing in additional revenue to local businesses.”
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service reports $40.9 billion was spent by birdwatchers in 2011 to support their hobby.
It’s estimated they spend $14.9 billion on food, lodging and transportation.
Ten observation points in various locations across the county with additional hotspots identified for seasonal viewing are planned for the Eagle Trail, which will educate visitors on the importance of eagles and protecting their habitat while increasing tourism.