I feel that the Pajarito Environmental Education Center has proven the value to the community and the acceptance of the community for a nature center.
The current location at the Little Valley/UNM-LA building on Orange Street has served a useful purpose in demonstrating these values to the community.
It has acted as a nursery for environmental ideas, outdoor student classes, relevant daytime and evening lectures, adult programs of every description, support for local groups with similar focus, and collection/cataloguing of our native flora and fauna.
The programs for grade school children are truly outstanding and appreciated.
However, the current building’s deficiencies are becoming more apparent and now limit further program development that could make a Los Alamos Nature Center truly a stellar facility. Indoor/outdoor communication is poor; one cannot view from within the concrete walls the various gardens, feeding stations, or play areas that volunteers have developed around the building.
Its utilities are quite inadequate, with extension cords and internet cables draped throughout. Most unfortunate is its location in a mundane draw that does nothing to showcase the spectacular setting for which Los Alamos is justifiably proud.
I am a charter member of PEEC from 2000 and volunteered weekly after PEEC leased the building in 2005. A specialty of mine is plant identification. I get calls or people stop me in the grocery store to describe plants they have seen.
I usually suggest they bring specimens to PEEC. (I like to show them the exquisite plant parts in PEEC’s fine microscope.) I am appalled at the number of people who never heard of PEEC or don’t know where the place is.
Equally unfortunate is to schedule meetings with participants who can’t find the place. On a number of occasions, we’ve had to talk people to our location by cell phone.
I have been following the Capital Improvements Project process since it opened to public participation. I can truly appreciate the wrenching decisions that Council must make among many excellent proposals in light of limited resource and the imposing burden of future maintenance.
Please consider that, in reality, Los Alamos has few amenities beyond its spectacular natural setting and its unique place in history.
My experience with classes I have given is that people appreciate even more our wonderful heritage the more they know about it.
The proposed innovative Nature Center in its proposed location would greatly enhance opportunities for discovery for residents and visitors alike.