1A Funds and Donation to Provide New Educational Exhibits
Friends of El Paso County Nature Centers donated $100,000 to the Bear Creek Nature Center to update the educational displays at the facility. The group presented a ceremonial “big check” to the Board of County Commissioners on Thursday.
“The exhibits are old and showing their ware. They were original installed in 2002 and need to be upgraded, renovated and more interactive,” said Jim Mariner, president of the Friends of El Paso County Nature Centers.
The Bear Creek Nature Center is a well-known treasure in El Paso County and was the first nature center in Colorado. The mission is to connect visitors to their natural resources and inspire them to become stewards. The nationally recognized nature center averages approximately 140,000 County residents and tourists visiting the nature center each year.
“Our goal for every nature center visitor is for them to learn about the natural and cultural resources in Bear Creek Regional Park, hike the trails, leave with a new appreciation of the park, and be inspired to be good stewards of the park and our environment,” said Todd Marts, Division Manager for Recreation and Cultural Services.
Mariner said, “We also have several thousand school children visit the nature center every year on environmental education field trips. One component of each field trip is discovery time in the exhibit room. The interactive exhibits engage the students and increases their confidence and interest to go outdoors.”
Seventy percent (70%) of El Paso County voters approved the 1A ballot issue on November 4, 2014, sending more than $2,000,000 in excess 2013 revenue to El Paso County Parks, which in turn, used that money to generate another $2,600,000 in matching grants, donations and dedicated park fees. Bear Creek Nature Center benefited from this vote with $150,000 slated for new exhibits. The $100,000 donation brings the total to $250,000 for the new education displays which should be installed by the end of the year.