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State Parks Honor 7 with Eagle Awards

L-R: Volunteer Robert Murphy; Tami Reist of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association; Parks Director Greg Lein; Volunteer Linda Reynolds; Joe Songer of the Alabama Media Group. (State Parks photo)

L-R: Volunteer Robert Murphy; Tami Reist of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association; Parks Director Greg Lein; Volunteer Linda Reynolds; Joe Songer of the Alabama Media Group. (State Parks photo)

Seven individuals and groups earned 2019 Alabama State Parks Eagle Awards that were presented recent at a ceremony at Lake Guntersville State Park.

The Eagle Awards program, now in its third year, honors outstanding efforts in supporting the parks. The awards are presented based on online nominations open to the public. This year, a special media award was also presented.

“We are proud to pay tribute to these special contributors to our state parks,” said Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein. “These Eagle Award winners have given of their time and talents and worked hard to help keep our parks special.”

The 2019 winners:

Community Partner – Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. The association, now known as North Alabama (, was formed in 1964 and serves 16 counties. The organization, headed by president and CEO Tami Reist, has provided promotional help to the state parks in the region, along with continued educational opportunities and other assistance. The association shares the good news about the parks at various trade shows in the region and beyond, and also provides space for parks’ personnel training.

Elected Officials – Alabama state Rep. Dickie Drake and Alabama state Rep. Steve McMillan.

Rep. Drake of Leeds worked hard in the Legislature in support of the passage of the Parks for Patriots Bill that now allows current military service members and veterans free admission to our state parks.  

Rep. McMillan of Bay Minette was a leader in the Legislature in working toward the completion of the Gulf State Park Lodge Project. Because of his efforts, visitors to Gulf State Park have a new, state of the art lodge to enjoy.

Park Partner – Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers. BUMP, led by president Tina Chanslor, is active in organizing rides, staffing work days in Oak Mountain State Park and hosting social activities for the group in the park. BUMP members volunteer for events such as Alabama’s high school mountain biking league, Trips for Kids, Take a Kid Biking and Take a Veteran Mountain Biking.

Volunteer – Robert Murphy and Linda Reynolds. This year, two outstanding volunteers are being recognized with Eagle Awards. Murphy gives his time to Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville while Reynolds volunteers at Lake Guntersville State Park.

Murphy has repainted blazes, replaced trail signage, cut back growth and performed other trail maintenance on approximately 31 miles of trails in Monte Sano State Park. Along with performing work himself, Murphy has also recruited other volunteers to assist. The dedicated volunteer has assisted park staff by getting quotes for materials needed for various trail projects.

Reynolds began the Eagle Awareness weekend program at Lake Guntersville State Park 34 years ago and continues to be an excellent resource for the Park Naturalist in researching, planning and conducting interpretive programs for park guests. She gives of her time, knowledge and energy in an enthusiastic fashion and generates positive publicity for the park.

Media – Joe Songer. Songer, a photographer and writer for the Alabama Media Group and The Birmingham News, is the first member of the media to be recognized with an Eagle Award. He is a regular visitor to our state parks, even during his off hours. Songer’s interest and enthusiasm for the parks show in his work that draws millions of page views to his postings on

The Alabama State Parks is a division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The division maintains 22 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 For more information about Alabama State Parks, go online to Partners Pay the Way.

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