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Berry College relocates stadium due to bald eagle nest | News

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Berry College relocates stadium due to bald eagle nest
Berry College relocates stadium due to bald eagle nest

ROME, Ga. -- The site of Berry College's much-anticipated stadium is being relocated due to a pair of popular bald eagles that built a nest at the campus near Rome, Ga. A webcam streaming live video from the nest has received more than 17 million views and the eagles' Facebook page has more than 60,000 "friends."

Berry had planned to build its new stadium close to the Steven J. Cage Athletic and Recreation Center, which would provide convenient parking and access to the campus entrance. In spring of 2012, the bald eagle couple built a nest in a tall pine tree just off the major parking lot. Given the very public location of the nest, officials were not sure if the eagles would return and use it. They returned in fall 2012 and successfully produced two eaglets in 2013. A third eaglet hatched in February 2014 and took its inaugural flight last week.

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The college initially applied for a permit from the U.S, Fish and Wildlife Service agreeing to shift the stadium to the south, provide additional plantings to serve as buffers, and to limit construction to the summer and early fall months when the nest was not in use. Berry officials said Wednesday they have had second thoughts and are going to move the stadium elsewhere.

"Everywhere we went, people were in awe of the eagles and grateful that we had set up the streaming video," said Steve Briggs, Berry's president. "The eagles are mesmerizing—better than any reality television show. And the truth is—we are entranced by them as well."

The new site for the stadium is a pasture to the south of Maple Drive, the service entrance to the college's main campus. Maple Drive, which was damaged during a windstorm in 2011, will be widened as part of the project and a grass field will be added for track-and-field throwing events. Relocating the stadium will also require reworking site engineering plans and construction documents.

More than 80 percent of the funds for the estimated $6.9 million project have been secured with the remainder to be raised in coming months, the school said in a press release.

Berry College was selected as the nation's number one "Up-And-Coming" liberal arts college in the 2014 U.S. News Best Colleges rankings.