What began in 2003 with a small group touring Valley ranches during calving season has become one of the most noted birding and wildlife events in the West.
The 10th annual Eagles & Agriculture celebration is Feb. 24-26.
Sponsored by American Land Conservancy, Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Authority, a group of Carson Valley ranchers, the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Western Nevada Resource Conservation and Development and the Smallwood Foundation that first tour offered the opportunity to view eagles, bald and golden, drawn by the presence of afterbirth.
"The ranchers were well aware of this phenomenon and the thought was that other folks might like to experience it as well," said Bill Chernock, Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce executive director. "At the same time, the tour would educate its guests about ranching in the 21st century and the important role the ranches play in maintaining habitat and the variety of wildlife in the Valley."
Eagles & Ag now takes a three-day weekend and includes a ranch and eagle tour, a welcome dinner, several other tours for birders, rafting trips, the popular owl prowl and a photography workshop.
The list of supporters has grown to include the Carson Valley agricultural and ranching community, along with the Lahontan Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy and other members of conservation community.
"This remarkable interaction between nature and agriculture attracts photographers, birders and nature-lovers of all kinds who come to closely observe bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, and a variety of other bird and wildlife species," Chernock said.
The 2012 schedule of events has been broadened to allow more people to take advantage of Eagles & Ag's expert guides and ranch access.
On Feb. 24, options include a raft/kayak birding and wildlife trip on the Carson River, two birders' special Raptor Highway and Byway tours, and Eagles & Ag's welcome dinner.
The welcome dinner has been upgraded from the cocktail reception of previous years, yet still features exhibits from the many agencies and sponsors who make the event possible. The menu features a five-course prime rib dinner.
Dr. Mike Fischer, longtime Carson Valley resident, occasional cowboy, former Douglas County commissioner and former Director of Cultural Affairs Department for the State of Nevada will also speak on places to visit.
"Knowing Dr. Fischer as we do, that will likely include hanging sites, watering holes and the part time residence of at least one of 'America's Most Wanted' criminals among the targets," Chernock said.
On Feb. 25, luxury motor coaches depart for the private ranch and eagle tour first thing in the morning, and includes a luncheon.
On Saturday afternoon, the Raptor Highway and Byway tour will again be offered, along with the popular Owl Prowl.
On Sunday, both the Raptor Highway & Byway tour and the raft/kayak Carson River tour return with morning starts, and the photography workshop takes to the field at first light to put the classroom tips into practice.
"As always, all Eagles & Ag activities are enhanced with the presence and knowledge of expert birders and the extra activities like the raffle, the Moo-off and the Eagles & AG Photography Contest are part and parcel of the event," Chernock said.
Registration is limited. Participants are encouraged to sign up soon as space is limited for all Eagles and Agriculture events. The tours and workshops demonstrate how agricultural stewardship benefits wildlife and their habitat in Nevada.
Prices and registration for the event are available online at www.visitcarsonvalley.org, along with more details and special lodging rates. To register via mail, download the registration form at that web site or call the Carson Valley Visitors Authority at (800) 727-7677.