FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WBOY) – The Marion County Commission made a financial contribution toward a new educational space at Valley Falls State Park. The commissioners donated $10,000 to park workers at its meeting on Wednesday. 

The money will go toward building an outdoor pavilion classroom that many organizations can utilize. 

Commissioner presenting check of $10,000 to Valley Falls State Park workers (WBOY Image)

Park workers plan to have the area to be used once a year to band Northern Saw-whet Owls. 

“I set nets up and catch the owls with using an audio lure. That kind of brings them in and then I measure, (get) the sex (and) age of the bird the best we can … then put a metal band on the bird and send it on its way,” OwlNet Owl Researcher Joey Herron said at the meeting.  

Herron has been banding owls for 18 years; he said this year has been his busiest.  

“I’ve never caught more than 53 in a season – like in an eight-week period. Well, I’m over 100 this year which has been amazing,” he said.  

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren via Wikimedia Commons)

The Northern Saw-whet owls migrate from the Boreal Forest in Canada to the southern parts of the United States for the winter. The banding project takes place every year in October and November in West Virginia. There are more than 100 stations content-wide that band these owls. This will be the fourth Northern Saw-whet Owl banding station in West Virginia.  

Park workers hope to have the outdoor classroom finished by Fall 2023. The outdoor classroom will also be used by high schools, Fairmont State University and the WVU Wildlife society.