To unsubscribe from the list, send email to audubon-news-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the Subject field. > Contact: Linda Vanderveer > lvanderveer@xxxxxxxxxxx <mailto:lvanderveer@xxxxxxxxxxx> > 212-979-3197 > > AUDUBON ARKANSAS TO ESTABLISH LITTLE ROCK NATURE CENTER > IN HEART OF 2,000 ACRES OF URBAN PARKLAND > > Audubon Center on Granite Mountain Will Offer Much-Needed Programs For Youth > > Little Rock, AR, March 14, 2003 -Audubon Arkansas moved forward today with > plans to create the City> '> s first urban nature center. The organization > signed a lease with the Little Rock Housing Authority for the former Booker > Homes Site - 68 acres in the community of Granite Mountain adjacent to Gillam > Park - where it will create an Audubon nature center. Construction for the > Audubon Center is estimated to begin in 2005. > > Today> '> s historic lease signing was attended by National Audubon> '> s > President John Flicker, Little Rock Vice Mayor Willie Hinton, the Little Rock > Housing Authority> '> s Director Lee Jones, as well as Board Chairman Wooten > Epes, and Audubon Arkansas> '> s State Director, Ken Smith. The lease will > cost Audubon Arkansas $1 per year; the size and total cost of the Center have > not been determined pending community and Audubon surveys and studies. > > "> At Audubon we believe that the future is in the hands of our children,> "> > said John Flicker, president, National Audubon Society. > "> More kids than > ever are living in urban communities, where it can be challenging to make a > special connection with nature. That> '> s why we> '> re working to > establish a network of Audubon Centers across the country. And it's why > we're focusing on urban areas like Little Rock where we have the opportunity > to open new eyes to nature, and reach a new generation of conservation > leaders.> "> > > "> The City of Little Rock will benefit immensely from the creation of an > Audubon Center,> "> said Little Rock Vice Mayor Willie Hinton. > "> We are > honored to have one of the nation> '> s oldest and most respected > conservation organizations partner with our schools, and provide our students > with an exciting opportunity to learn about the amazing natural world found > right here in the city. Together we will create an outstanding facility that > will serve as a community resource for children and adults from all corners > of the city.> "> > > "> We couldn> '> t think of a better use for this property than the creation > of a nature center,> "> said Wooten Epes, board chairman of the Little Rock > Housing Authority. > "> The site offers a breathtaking view of the City, and > will improve accessibility to two wonderful but little used city parks - > Gillam Park and Fourche Creek. We are delighted to partner with Audubon on > this ambitious undertaking.> "> > > The establishment of the Little Rock Audubon Center will help fill the City> > '> s overwhelming need for youth-oriented programming. With a K-12 > enrollment of more than 25,000 students, Little Rock has the largest public > school district in the state. The Audubon Center> '> s programs will > directly support the Little Rock School District> '> s strategic plan, which > focuses on providing a network of community-based education and support > resources for urban youth. The core of the strategic plan is a strong > partnership between area schools and community organizations, such as > Audubon. > > The Little Rock Audubon Center will be the first Audubon Center in the state, > and will serve as a model for other urban nature centers. More than 50 > schools are located within a 15-minute drive of the Audubon Center site, and > thousands of students will have the opportunity to experience hands-on, > nature-based education with the Center> '> s teachers, naturalists, and > volunteers. Programs will focus on bringing visitors out into nature, using > two adjacent city parks - Fourche Creek and Gillam Park - as outdoor > classrooms. > > "> By using local parks to teach children and families about the wonders of > nature, we can help people make a direct connecti> on with the outdoors. > When nature is right in your backyard, or in the case of the Granite Mountain > community, right across the street, you understand it better. When you > understand it, it becomes your nature, your park,> "> said Ken Smith, state > director, Audubon Arkansas. > > "One of the most important goals of the Granite Mountain Neighborhood > Improvement Association is to consistently pursue educational and social > activities that will enhance our neighborhood,> "> said Frank J. Boyle, > president of the Association. > "> I am very proud and supportive of Audubon > Arkansas for their efforts to provide a nature center in the Gillam Park > area.> "> > > The Little Rock Audubon Center will use the actual nature center building as > a portal to the outdoors, drawing visitors to the site and then directing > them to a system of nature trails that wind through adjacent parkland. At > roughly 350 acres, Gillam Park has some of Central Arkansas> '> s best > examples of old growth White Oak stands, bottomland wetlands, and upland > glades. Audubon will use all of the Gillam Park property for its Audubon > Center education programs. > > Fourche Creek, spanning roughly 1,700 acres, is part of perhaps the most > important urban watershed in the state. With its variety of bottomland > hardwoods, swamps, and marshes, the area serves as a vital water filtration > system for Central Arkansas. Last fall Audubon Arkansas embarked on a > long-term restoration project of Fourche Creek and its watershed, and formed > a partnership with three Little Rock schools to help students get involved in > this hands-on conservation experience. > > Students at the pilot schools - J.A. Fair Environmental Sciences Magnet High > School, Mablevale Environmental Sciences Magnet Middle School, and Otter > Creek Elementary - participate in stream restoration projects and engage in > activities like water quality studies, wildlife inventory, native plant > restoration, and in the future, trail development. Ultimately it is hoped > that many more schools in the Little Rock School District will work on the > Fourche Creek restoration project through programs at the Audubon Center. > > Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat > that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers > and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of > areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all > ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences. > > > # # # > You are subscribed to Audubon-News. To unsubscribe, send email to audubon-news-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the Subject field. To adjust other settings (vacation, digest, etc.) please visit, http://www.freelists.org/list/audubon-news.