Eagles & Ag weekend takes flight Feb. 19 | NevadaAppeal.com

Eagles & Ag weekend takes flight Feb. 19

Staff Reports
A barn owl is captured in flight on the Byington Ranch in Minden Wednesday.
Brad Coman |

To spotlight the many contributions the agricultural community makes to Carson Valley, an Eagles & Agriculture event was created 13 years ago that draws hundreds of visitors every year.

Reservations are being accepted for the Feb. 19- 22 event, hosted by the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce, UNR Cooperative Extension, The Nature Conservancy, Lahonton Audobon Society and Valley ranchers.

“Eagles & Ag allows us to talk about Carson Valley in the best way possible. It’s also good recognition for the ranchers,” said Bill Chernock, executive director of the Carson Valley Cghamber of Commerce said. “We’re throwing images out there of the mountains and rivers and wildlife. It allows us to introduce the Valley to a lot of people. I like it because it’s an event that’s so authentic. We didn’t create the event, we just allow pwoplw to see it.”

The weekend begins with a welcome reception on Thursday night at the Holiday Inn Express in Minden. The reception features an exhibition of the work of noted local wildlife photographers and a visit from a Snowy Owl and Kestrel.

“Eagles & Ag organizers, BSers and birders are on hand to start the conversation about the weekend events,” Chernock said. “Light hors d’ouevres are included and a cash bar is available.”

On Friday, the tours begin with a trip to the IVGID Wetlands area led by Jim Woods of Birding Under Nevada Skies.

“It’s a remarkabl area that nobody ever goes to,” Chernock said. “Pelicans? Really? They are out there. There’s an incredible amount of wildlife out there.”

The tour involves a medium hike over level ground, and is limited to 20 people. Participants should bring their scopes, binoculars and cameras. This tour departs at 8 a.m. from the Carson Valley Inn.

That afternoon at 1:30, the Raptor Highway & Byway Tour, also conducted by Woods, will offer spotting and photography opportunities for those interested in seeing the various species of raptors that come to Carson Valley in the winter season. Again, the tour departs from Carson Valley Inn and is limited to 20 participants and scopes, binoculars and cameras are a must.

On Friday evening, the Falconers’ Dinner will take place at the Carson Valley Inn.

“We are pleased to announce that Jim and Kathleen Tigan of Raptor Adventures have agreed to join us this year,” Chernock said. “Several years ago, Kathleen showed their Steppe Eagle at our event and the Tigans, who now are doing a great deal of their work in Northern Nevada, will be bringing some of their working raptors and will talk about how they help companies like Hahn Vineyards and the Lodge at Pebble Beach for wildlife control.”

Other falconers will be on hand along with their birds to talk about the raising and training of raptors.

“As always, this a rare chance for people to get up close to falcons, hawks, owls and other raptors for viewing and photographing these beautiful birds,” Chernock said.

The evening includes a four-course dinner, and there will be exhibits throughout the Carson Valley Inn from businesses and organizations that support the Eagles & Ag efforts. There is also a raffle drawing that evening for prizes donated by our exhibitors.

Saturday morning, the Ranch & Eagle Tour & Luncheon departs the Carson Valley Inn at 8 a.m.

“The heart of the weekend is really the Ranch & Eagle Tour,” Chernock said. “We encourage people to bring cameras with serious lenses and spotting scopes.”

The tour focuses on to four or five area ranches for the rare opportunity to access the ranches, hear from the ranch owners and operators, and provides the best chance for sighting and photographing bald eagles.

“Each bus has a birder and local expert on history to maximize the knowledge and fun and there is a birder at each of our ranches as well with a spotting scope and (we hope) knowledge of where the eagles may be sighted,” Chrnock said. “Our buses are top of the line motorcoaches and there is room for our guests to bring spotting equipment and cameras.”

Due to its popularity, the Ranch & Eagle Tour & Luncheon will be repeated on Sunday. It will depart 8 a.m. from the CVI.

On Saturday afternoon, two tours depart at 1:30 p.m. so that guests can experience the Ranch & Eagle Tour & Luncheon and one of the afternoon tours as well.

The first is one of the most popular, the Owl Prowl, which visits historic ranches and barns to seek out opportunities to spot and photograph a variety of owls and also gets to experience a demonstration flight from one of our local falconers.

Also departing at 1:30 p.m., is the new ‘Ins and Outs of Agriculture.’

“Eagles & Ag guests have been invited by Fred and Betty Stodieck to visit their ranch, which has been worked by the family for several generations,” Chernock said. “This ranch is a traditional one, operating cow/calf, haying and garlic production while incorporating new technology to a tie tested business model.”

A photography workshop begins with the classroom session at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Holiday Inn Express. It is taught by Craig Moore, who has been teaching in California and Nevada for many years. Craig will go over basic concepts as well as specific advanced techniques in the three-hour session.

On Sunday morning, the field exercise of the workshop will depart from the Holiday Inn Express at 7 a.m. led by Carson Valley wildlife photographer John Humphrey.

The final tour of the weekend will be ‘The Ranch Tour-Comstock Seed Co’, and will be held Sunday afternoon.

“Comstock Seed has taken a traditional cattle ranch and used creative business thinking to develop a different model for ranch operation-one that produces seed for reforestation, landscaping and large scale restoration work of areas that have experienced fire or other impacts,” Chernock said. “Owners Ed and Linda Kleiner have made thinking out of the box their regular approach to land use and water conservation and are in many ways, the future of land use in the West.”

Along with the events and tours, Eagles & Ag will again feature a photography contest, seeking the best Carson Valley eagle image and wildlife/agriculture image. Winners receive a $125 prize.

For details on all of the events, including pricing, as well as to make reservations for the tours, visit carsonvalleynv.org and click on Eagles & Ag from the home page.

The Carson Valley Chamber is available at 782-8144 to answer any questions 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.