The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Los Alamos County Nature Center, a public-private partnership between Los Alamos County and the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), was held April 22. Shortly thereafter, construction began on the new facility, and the project is moving forward to reach its expected completion in the spring of 2015.
Under the partnership agreement, the County is responsible for construction of the facility, which is slated to cost $4.3 million. Klinger Constructors has been chosen as the contractor to work on the project. Since the groundbreaking, the east side of the building footprint was excavated to tuff and is now being refilled.
Layers of filtered and wetted soil are compacted after every eight inches of fill dirt is brought back down into the pit. The filled and compacted soil layers are also continuously tested for firmness by Terracon.
A filtering device called the “Grizzly” is used to separate the asphalt, concrete and other debris from the soil. To date, the contractor has removed several hundred tons of concrete, asphalt and assorted pipe debris from the site. The facility is being constructed at 2600 Canyon Road, just east of the Aquatic Center.
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 will plan and fund professional indoor and outdoor exhibits, which will belong to the nature center.
The exhibits are expected to cost around $1 million. To date, PEEC has raised more than $850,000. A PEEC committee is hard at work, together with Santa Fe-based exhibit design firm Merriell and Associates, to design the exhibits.
PEEC has also just announced that it will be hiring a part-time director of interpretation (DOI) to begin July 1. The DOI will be responsible for creating and curating interpretive programming and exhibits, which will create opportunities for Los Alamos residents and visitors to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors.
“What all this means is that we are moving full steam ahead on the new nature center,” PEEC Executive Director Katie Watson said. “Both PEEC and Los Alamos County are highly motivated to open the doors to the new nature center by Earth Day next year because so many community members told us how important this project is to them. We look forward to updating the community as the project progresses.”
To learn more about the new nature center and/or to make a donation toward the exhibits, visit www.pajaritoeec.org/takewing.