EdVenture supports Nature Center | VailDaily.com

EdVenture supports Nature Center

Have you visited The Vail Nature Center recently?

This hidden gem is right off of the Gore Creek by the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater and is an integral part of the Vail history, and many locals and visitors don't even know that it exists. Recently, Walking Mountains hosted its semi-annual EdVenture at the Nature Center for its donors. Originally a homestead farmhouse from the 1940s, the Nature Center celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, at the same time, the Vail Recreation District contracted with Walking Mountains Science Center to fully run the facility. The hope was that Walking Mountains could help to make the Vail Nature Center become one of the "must see" landmarks in Vail.

The plan is to take care of many "deferred maintenance" issues and to expand the programs offered there.

"Tourists often don't know it is here and 'stumble' upon the building as they explore the outskirts of Ford Park," said Lara Carlson, community programs director for Walking Mountains. "Locals who know it is here often have not visited for many years. We don't want the Vail Nature Center to be hidden anymore."

Guests walked away with more than a delicious breakfast from Larkspur, they also learned about the local habitat around the Nature Center. Pete Wadden, the landscape stewardship coordinator, shared his knowledge about the hardy sagebrush and the local animals it supports. Part of Pete's job is to run our high school internship program. He and his staff do field research for the Forest Service every summer. Ken Neubecker worked at the Vail Nature Center for many years and is currently the executive director at Western Rivers Institute in Carbondale. He discussed the latest information on Gore Creek's health. Kaitlyn Merriman and Hannah Irwin, two of the community program coordinators engaged the guests in the behaviors of local birds.

"The Nature Center needs a facelift," added Carlson. "Time and age have caused the building to have a worn out appearance. This building represents a piece of Vail's history that has been lost in the development of many other areas of town. With history comes problems — the building has poor insulation and resident squirrels and ants (and not of the taxidermy variety). While still preserving the past, we have a vision to bring the Vail Nature Center into the 21st century with a fresher look, more accessible features and improved learning areas."

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Donations are needed, of course. Walking Mountains plans to offer programs from walks along the creek to full-day hikes and make the Nature Center a "must do" on any guest, local or from far away. Currently, a plethora of activities are available, from nighttime walks of the beaver ponds, "S'Mores and more" storytime, morning bird walks and even "learning how to think like a trout." The Nature Center is located just east of Vail Village, across Gore Creek from the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and the Ford Amphitheater. Parking is available at the Vail Village parking structure, Ssoccer field or tennis center.

For more information on the Vail Nature Center, visit http://www.vailrec.com/nature.