Special to the
Opelika Observer

The Alabama State Parks Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will once again recognize special contributors to the parks with its prestigious Eagle Awards, to be presented Feb. 1, 2020 at Lake Guntersville State Park.
Nominations for the fourth annual Eagle Awards are open online at alapark.com/eagle-awards and the awards will be presented in five categories:
• elected official, community partner, park partner, volunteer in parks (VIP) and youth. Deadline for submitting nominations is Jan. 6, 2020.
“This special recognition program means a lot to everyone in the Alabama State Parks Division,” said Parks Director Greg Lein. “Our parks could not operate, much less thrive as they are, without the help of individuals and groups that we are able to celebrate each year during an Eagle Awareness Weekend at Lake Guntersville State Park. It’s a challenge to select the Eagle Award winners each year because we have so many people who give so much of themselves to help our parks.”
Here are brief descriptions of the Eagle Awards categories:
• Elected Official: This award honors an elected official who has worked in conjunction with the parks to help fulfill its mission to preserve natural areas, operate recreational facilities and extend the public’s knowledge of the state’s natural environment.
• Community Partner: Parks succeed with the cooperation and support of community organizations such as other government organizations, chambers of commerce, tourism organizations and local businesses – groups that understand that the success of the park means success for the community.
 • Park Partner: Organizations work to provide or maintain amenities in the parks, such as hiking and biking trails, that otherwise might not exist due to the allocation of resources for other services. This award celebrates those partners who see a need and cooperate with park leadership to fill it.
• Volunteer in Parks: These VIPs work in various ways to make our parks system better. Volunteers may be providing physical labor or strategic planning to improve one park, or the entire system of parks.
• Youth: Our parks inspire young and old alike, but the impression left on youngsters often lives with them forever. Many turn their love of parks and of outdoors into projects to benefit some of their favorite places – often as part of a Scouting program. This award, for students 12th grade and younger, honors the person whose contribution is extraordinary.
About Alabama’s State Parks System
The Alabama State Parks is a division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The division maintains 21 parks encompassing approximately 48,000 acres of land and water. These parks rely on visitor fees and the support of other partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations.
Download the State Parks app at pocketranger.com. For more information about Alabama State Parks, go online to www.alapark.com.Partners PaytheWay.