Ground Broke for New Wildlife Education Center

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Ground was broken on Sept. 8 for a new wildlife education center. Located in Farmington -- near the shore of the Great Salt Lake -- the center will help visitors learn about and experience the lake and its associated wetlands. The center should open to the public in winter 2017.

DWR Press Release

Farmington – On Sept. 8, shovels turned and ground was broke for a new wildlife education center on the shores of Great Salt Lake.

In addition to helping visitors explore the lake, its wetlands, and the wildlife that call this critical area home, Division of Wildlife Resources Director Greg Sheehan envisions the center as something the local community will use and take pride in.

In his comments to the audience gathered at the site on Thursday, Sheehan noted that “the wetlands surrounding the Great Salt Lake are well known as the single most important ecosystem and resting point for migrating birds in the western US.”

Sheehan said the wetland education facilities will be available for school activities, bird watchers, community events and much more. “We want this to be a gateway to the wonders of nature that exist right in our own backyards,” he said.

The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Wildlife Education Center is at 1700 W. Glover Lane in Farmington. The center should be finished, and open to the public, by winter 2017.

Partnership

The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Wildlife Education Center was made possible through funding from the state legislature, the DWR, the Utah Wildlife and Conservation Foundation and a generous donation from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation. Additionally, a generous donation by The ALSAM Foundation has led to addition of the L.S. Skaggs Wetland Discovery Classroom at the new center.

“The center is a shining example of two foundations, a wildlife conservation organization, a government agency, the state legislature, and other contributors coming together to provide a valuable resource that will benefit our community for years to come,” Sheehan said.

“Our foundation is pleased to partner with others in creating this exciting new center, extending our history of support for projects fostering greater knowledge and appreciation for the Great Salt Lake,” said Spencer F. Eccles, chairman and CEO of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation

“The wetlands and ecosytem of this incredible natural wonder are vitally important to our citizens, our state’s economy, and to millions of wildlife from throughout the world that feed and nest here annually,” Eccles said. “We’re committed to help preserve its vital role for generations to come.”

The ALSAM Foundation is also a vital contributor to the new center. “The Skaggs family, through The ALSAM Foundation, is pleased to be able to participate in this public/private partnership to help bring the wetlands of the Great Salt Lake closer to the people of Utah,” said Ronny Cutshall, a representative for the Skaggs family and the foundation.

The Utah Wildlife and Conservation Foundation also played an important role.

“The new Wildlife Education Center at Farmington Bay is truly a great example of what can be accomplished with public and private financial support and through the collaborative efforts of public officials, foundations, and volunteers,” said Stephen Swindle, representing the foundation.

Wetlands and three buildings

The wildlife education center is part of the Robert N. Hasenyager Great Salt Lake Nature Reserve at Farmington Bay. The 300-acre reserve includes the wildlife education center and a wetlands discovery area complete with walking trails and interpretative signs.

Sheehan says the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Wildlife Education Center will consist of three buildings and a courtyard area. The buildings comprising the wildlife education center are:

o   Exhibit hall

Visitors will learn about Great Salt Lake, the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area and the myriad birds and other wildlife that utilize the area through interpretive exhibits that fill the building.

o   Community room / auditorium

This building will consist of a large, open space that can accommodate up to 200 people. The room will have a divider that allows it to be split into two rooms. It will include audio visual equipment, speaker podiums and a kitchen set up for caterers and others. In addition to holding school programs here, the room will be available for groups, communities and private individuals to rent for various events.

o   L.S. Skaggs Wetland Discovery Classroom

DWR staff and its partners will offer school programs for up to 30 students in this building. The building will also offer a ‘wetlab’ that will allow students to more closely inspect the neighboring wetland.

When the DWR isn’t using the building, it will be open to the public year round for a variety of educational experiences. The building will include two glass walls that open, immersing students in a wetland experience.

Several purposes

Sheehan says the wildlife education center should fill several roles.

“The center and its associated reserve will allow visitors to learn about and experience the Great Salt Lake, its associated wetlands and the myriad birds and other wildlife that rely on this critical area during different times of the year,” he says.

Sheehan also sees the center as an area the local community will utilize and take pride in.

“The community room and the classroom will be available for members of the community and groups to reserve,” he says. “I can see art and photography exhibits, family and community events, and outdoor recreation conferences and meetings being held at the facilities.”

Sheehan also hopes the center will bridge gaps between those who hunt and those who choose not to.

“Since groups with varying interests can use the center at the same time,” he says, “we hope they’ll have a chance to interact and understand the role that we all play, albeit in different ways, in the conservation of Utah’s wildlife.”

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