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Birds in Flight reaches its goal

VIENNA — The Birds in Flight Sanctuary will soon be taking flight to its new home on Henn Hyde Road.

The sanctuary met its goal of purchasing the 63 acres of land for $225,000.

“We met the goal a few days before the closing. We met it the 13th, and it closed the 15th. It was close,” Cameron Merritt said.

Cameron’s mother, Heather, owns Birds in Flight and has been caring for birds and smaller animals since 1991 out of her backyard in Howland.

“We’ve been working since February to purchase the property because we needed to do the research and get everything in order to make sure we could do what we wanted to do with the land,” Heather Merritt said.

Once the paperwork was in place, they only had about a month and a half to raise the $225,000, she said.

This new property will not only benefit the animals, but it will give Heather and her team the space and resources they need to continue their mission.

“We need to build living quarters for Heather and myself because someone needs to be there at all times. We’ll also have a few rehabilitation buildings, a hospital, a museum in the educational building along with classrooms for programs,” Cameron said.

“There’s no solid number for the cost but it was estimated a few years ago to be between $3 million to $5 million. We hope to be open to the public by the end of next year but it’ll take some time for everything to be completed.”

Cameron said they may have a full facility in the next five years, but Heather said she believes they’ll get there in “however long it takes.” One thing they can agree on is that they plan open to the public for programs by the end of next year.

“We hope to be holding programs even before we have buildings or animals out there. The land has so much to offer. It has wetlands, a pond, a large field and trails,” Heather said.

“If you would’ve asked me last month if we would be where we’re at now, I didn’t think we’d do it. It’s by the grace of God that we’re here. We’re scared to death, but super excited,” she said.

bshiller@tribtoday.com

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