Between the 7’s
A dream is now becoming a reality for Audubon Arizona and the residents of South Phoenix. The $7 million dollar capital campaign has been completed and if you drive down south Central Avenue today you will see a steel frame of what will soon be a 7,000 square foot education center.
The center will officially be known as the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center. This is Audubons first education center in the state of Arizona. The center will be located on four acres on the south bank of the river in the middle of the recently completed Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Project. The center is expected to be complete in the 3rd quarter of 2009.
This facility will be LEED certified and will include a Wetland, Hummingbird Garden, Discovery Room, Classrooms, Nature trails, and a Library/Nature Viewing Room. Outside will be a free play area where children will have the outdoor experiences that todays adults might take for granted, such as wading in a stream or climbing a tree.
There will also be the Wetland Discovery Trail that will give visitors access to demonstration habitats, including a marsh, mud flats and interpretive areas, such as cottonwood, willow and mesquite habitats.
Through its interpretive trails, exhibits, and educational programming, the center will tell the story of a precious desert river, connecting visitors- especially schoolchildren- to the habitat, deepening their love and understanding of riparian and desert ecosystems and empowering them as stewards of the environment.
Once the center is built on the banks of the Salt River and Central Avenue it will connect the most diverse and deserving children in the Valley to nature in their very own neighborhood. The high quality education programs that will be offered at the nature center will be second to none.
I have served as a board member for Audubon Arizona for almost two years now and I have never been more excited. To have a $7 million dollar investment in our community in this tough economy shows a commitment by our leaders to the area. This comes along with the nearly $100 million Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Project that currently offers a major urban landscape setting to revitalize the Salt River corridor in South Phoenix.
Part of my duties with Audubon Arizona is to educate, inform and invite everyone: teachers, students, community members, tourist, business leaders, scientists to explore our backyard river either on your own or through our hands-on environmental education programs.
Our mission at Audubon Arizona is to further the protection of birds, other wildlife and their habitats through science, education, advocacy and conservation, for the benefit of humanity and the earths biological diversity.
We envision an Arizona with a rich and diverse natural heritage, where there is ample habitat for birds and other wildlife, where a majority of its people appreciate and participate in their natural environment, and whose children are educated and motivated to become the conservation leaders of tomorrow.
The center is not open yet but if you have not discovered The 600 acre Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area now is a great time. The Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area is located on Central Ave south of the I-17 Highway and just north of Broadway Road. Visit this place and you will find a streamside oasis in the heart of Phoenix. This green jewel is just minutes from downtown and admission and parking is free.
I am honored to serve on such a board and it gives me great hope for the future of our children in South Phoenix and Arizona. I encourage all who read this article to take the time and discover the gifts of The Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area. The weather is perfect, so get out and enjoy a new experience!
Thanks to the leadership and hard work of Sam Campana, Sarah Porter, Randy Schilling, Marcia Halstead, all the staff and board members of Audubon Arizona, and all the community partners for making this happen in our community.
For more information on the project and upcoming educational programs, please visit http://www.phoenix.gov/riosalado or http://az.audubon.org or contact Audubon Arizona at 602-468-6470.
Audubon Arizona is delighted to offer free habitat tours and slide presentations to business and community groups please call to reserve a date!