SEQUIM — A little bit rain wasn’t going to cease this social gathering, not with about 4 a long time and a proverbial river of group and regional help behind it.
Advocates of the Dungeness River Nature Center gathered Sunday for the invitation-only celebration of the — virtually full — multi-million-dollar expansion through which almost each side of the favored heart is upgraded, together with expanded assembly areas, present store, espresso store, rain backyard, new entry highway and parking zone and a hands-on Discovery Area, 3-D watershed reduction map and salmon room. It isn’t open to the general public but, however a group open home is deliberate July 6-7.
When guests come to the middle at 1943 W. Hendrickson Road in Sequim, “they’re going to know they are in for a surprise and a destination,” mentioned W. Ron Allen, tribal chairman for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.
Home to quite a few outside and academic actions, the middle will “help people understand why nature is so important,” Allen famous.
“This is a dream come true,” mentioned Annette Hanson, president of Dungeness River Nature Center and a founding father of what would later turn into Railroad Bridge Parks academic heart, on Sunday as she thanked donors.
“You have given our community and region one of the best legacies you ever could,” she mentioned.
The venture began off with a $2.9 million price ticket, heart Director Powell Jones mentioned, nevertheless it escalated to about $5.4 million due to the pandemic, provide chain points and different uncontrollable results on prices.
Through the 2018 “Inspire Wonder” capital marketing campaign, massive contributions got here from companions, philanthropic organizations and group donations. However, nature heart advocates have raised about 90 p.c of that ultimate price ticket, Jones mentioned.
Funds nonetheless are wanted for the fabrication and set up of the 3-D ecosystem exhibit, mentioned Jan Halliday, Donor & Sponsor Engagement coordinator for the character heart.
The exhibit will function 5 murals, integration of the expansive wildlife specimens, interpretive panels, pictures, tribal artifacts and associated gear that showcases your complete watershed from snowfields to saltwater.
The remainder of the displays are being manufactured now and scheduled to be fully put in by Oct. 30, Halliday mentioned.
State Rep. Steve Tharinger of Legislative District 24 was among the many dignitaries celebrating the middle’s opening Sunday afternoon. He recalled a favourite William Shakespeare quote: “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
Said Tharinger: “There’s no query the world may use a bit extra kinship proper now. The River Center gives that kinship in an ever-expanding magnitude by connecting the younger and previous to the pure world of the Dungeness Valley.
“The center helps people understand the complexities of the inter-relations of the river’s ecosystem, which is a good thing on many levels.”
The new, polished river heart is the fruits of greater than 4 a long time of efforts to present the group a spot to find out about and discover the Dungeness River watershed, one which had its origins in a room on the previous Sequim High School Building off North Sequim Avenue.
In the mid-Nineteen Eighties, Hanson’s husband, Mark Hanson, a center college science instructor, overheard sixth-graders speaking about what birds they’d shot and displaying what he felt was a normal disregard for animal life.
So he started mounting taxidermied birds and commenced displaying them in lecture rooms, utilizing an academic allow from state Department of Fish and Wildlife “to salvage specimens,” Annette Hanson recalled.
“We had road kills, window kills — you can imagine what we had in our freezer,” she mentioned.
In 1984 —with the assistance of native artists — the Hansons constructed the Sequim Natural History Museum, a whole mannequin watershed from mountain to sea, stuffed with specimens of the wildlife in floor-to-ceiling dioramas.
Mark Hanson acquired an academic allow from fish and wildlife to salvage specimens.
In the early Nineteen Nineties, when the college reclaimed the area, the museum went into storage. However, group members labored collectively to buy the historic Railroad Bridge and a half-mile right-of-way as Railroad Bridge Park, the primary piece of the Olympic Discovery Trail in Clallam County.
“We thought, ‘What a perfect place to have a new center. Look at the setting we have.’ That’s why we’re here,” Hanson mentioned Sunday.
When the venture’s authorities sponsorship fell by, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe assumed accountability and possession of the land and buildings, increasing the park by 10 acres on the east facet of the river.
The Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society and National Audubon Society joined the partnership in 1997.
Since its opening in 2001, folks have visited the Dungeness River Audubon Center for courses, festivals, lectures, discipline journeys, summer time camps and extra.
“After about 12 years in a small building … conversations started happening, ‘We don’t have enough space,’” Jones recalled.
Years later, due to partnership with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, the efforts to renovate the ability in full grew to become realized.
“The really cool thing about the River Center is that it’s not like a lot of other nature centers, where it’s strictly biology or ecology and that sort of stuff,” mentioned David Brownell, govt director of the North Olympic Historical Center, in a video produced concerning the heart’s expansion.
“[It] combines the elements of the actual railroad history [of the Olympic Discovery Trail and bridge] and then elements of tribal culture and history.”
Railroad Bridge Park could have no public parking by June 5. After that, the brand new parking zone will likely be open.
“We want to be a world-class nature center,” Jones mentioned.
“There might be a couple 1,000 kids going through, learning about the watershed. How that trickles through the community — when they go home and introduce new ideas to their family and talk about it — on a local level, that’s incredible.”
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which additionally consists of different Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].