The front view of the Los Alamos County Nature Center under construction on Canyon Road. On the right are the staff offices and towering above is the planetarium. Courtesy/PEEC
If you’ve driven past 2600 Canyon Road lately, you’ve probably noticed a lot of progress being made on the construction of the new Los Alamos County Nature Center.
The land has been cleared, the slab has been poured, and the building is starting to take structure. At the same time, the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) is hard at work raising funds to outfit the new center with exhibits and gardens. Fundraising efforts now include engraved bricks and pavers, which will grace the gardens of the new center.
The new nature center is a public-private partnership between Los Alamos County and PEEC. Under the partnership agreement, the County is responsible for construction of the facility, which is slated to cost $4.3 million. Klinger Constructors is the contractor working on the project.
From the front, you can see that some windows still need to be cut out of the plywood. On the right side are the staff offices, and towering above is the planetarium.
To the left of the entrance is the site of the children’s discovery area.
Front view. The children’s discovery area is on the left. Courtesy/PEEC
Stepping inside the structure takes you to the future exhibit hall, with a view toward the classroom.
Inside the exhibit hall, looking toward the classroom. Courtesy/PEEC
PEEC, a grassroots organization that currently operates a small nature center on Orange Street, has been chosen by the County to operate the new nature center. Also as part of the agreement, PEEC is planning and funding professional indoor and outdoor exhibits, which will belong to the nature center. The indoor and outdoor exhibits and professional planetarium projector are expected to cost around $1.2 million; to-date, PEEC has raised about 85 percent of that goal.
PEEC is working with Santa Fe-based exhibit design firm Merriell and Associates to design the exhibits. The indoor exhibit areas will be divided into four themes: canyons, mesas, mountains and skies. This is in keeping with PEEC’s mission of “enriching people’s lives by strengthening their connections to our canyons, mesas, mountains, and skies.”
“The construction of the building is on schedule, and PEEC is moving forward with finalizing the designs for the exhibits,” PEEC Executive Director Katie Watson said.
According to Watson, the exhibits are all being custom designed and fabricated for the nature center.
“The new center will be unlike any other nature center – very unique to the Pajarito Plateau,” she said. “Our hope is that it will become a great resource not just for Los Alamos, but for all of northern New Mexico.”
Engraved bricks are now available for donations of $500. Courtesy/PEEC
Watson added that PEEC is now offering engraved bricks and pavers as part of its fundraising efforts. For a donation of $500, donors will have the opportunity to put a message on an engraved brick, which will grace the gardens of the new center. The bricks are 4”x8” and can have 1-3 lines of engraving with 18-20 characters per line.
For donations of $1,000, donors can opt for a paver. The pavers are 8”x8” and can have 1-6 lines of engraving with 18-20 characters per line. With a paver, there is also the option of including the Pajarito bird stamp, which has a long history in Los Alamos and can be found at various places around town. The engraving has a lifetime guarantee, so the text will last forever.
Engraved pavers are now available for donations of $1,000. Courtesy/PEEC
“Some people have chosen to engrave their childrens’ or grandchildrens’ names, while others will have messages in memory of a special person,” said Watson. “It’s a timeless way to honor those people, while showing a support for nature and our community. Even those who wish their donation to be anonymous can participate by having a special quote, thought, or message engraved.”
To learn more about the new nature center and/or to make a donation toward the exhibits, visit www.PajaritoEEC.org/TakeWing.
The Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) was founded in 2000 to serve the community of Los Alamos. It offers people of all ages a way to enrich their lives by strengthening their connections to our canyons, mesas, mountains, and skies. PEEC maintains a nature center, holds regular programs and events, and hosts a number of interest groups from birding to hiking to butterfly watching. PEEC activities are open to everyone; however, members receive exclusive benefits such as discounts on programs and merchandise. Annual memberships start at $20. To learn more, visit http://www.PajaritoEEC.org.