> Contact: Linda Vanderveer > 212/979-3197 > lvanderveer@xxxxxxxxxxx > OFFICIAL PARTNERSHIP ESTABLISHED TO LEAD > WILDCAT GLADES CONSERVATION AND AUDUBON CENTER > > Historic Agreement Signed Between Audubon Missouri, Missouri Department of > Conservation, and City of Joplin > > Joplin, MO, March 20, 2003 - The Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon > Center in Joplin took a significant step forward today, as officials with the > Missouri Department of Conservation, City of Joplin, and Audubon Missouri > signed a formal agreement to partner on the project. The signing took place > during the Missouri Department of Conservation> '> s monthly Commission > meeting, which is being held at the Joplin Holiday Inn especially for this > event. Those on hand to ink the deal were National Audubon Society> '> s > President, John Flicker, Joplin Mayor Richard Russell, Audubon Missouri staff > members, Missouri Department of Conservation Commission Chairman Howard Wood > and Director John Hoskins. The signing of this agreement solidifies the > partnership of these three organizations, which has been in the works for > more than two years. > > Under the terms of today> '> s agreement, Audubon Missouri will lease 46 > acres in Wildcat Park from the City of Joplin for a period of 50 years. The > lease consists of two back-to-back 25-year leases for $1 a year. The > agreement also solidifies the terms of several key sources of funding for the > center, including the $2 million matching grant from the Missouri Department > of Conservation earmarked for the bricks and mortar of the nature center > building. Another key source of funding will come from the City of Joplin, > under which the terms of the agreement will be realized up to $500,000 for > both on and off-site public improvements. > > "> At Audubon we seek to connect people with nature,> "> said National > Audubon Society President and CEO John Flicker. > "> We are extraordinarily > fortunate to find partners in Missouri that share our vision. The Wildcat > Glades Conservation and Audubon Center will provide valuable outdoor learning > experiences for residents and visitors of Joplin by directly connecting them > with the birds, other wildlife, and unique landscapes found here. Today> '> > s agreement marks an investment in this community by all of our partners, and > a commitment to enhance the quality of life for not only the people of > southwest Missouri, but for residents of the surrounding region.> "> > > "> This is a great asset for Joplin and the surrounding community,> "> said > Joplin Mayor Richard Russell. > "> This Center will be a highlight not only > for our residents but for the many visitors and tourists that come to Joplin > and southwest Missouri. The many resources in this new facility will provide > numerous opportunities for outdoor activities, and family outings and > gatherings as well as educational field trips. With this new development, > Joplin and the metropolitan area will experience a positive impact in our > schools, tourism offerings and economic development. The City of Joplin is > honored to have the first Audubon Center in Missouri, and we look forward to > serving as a model for future Audubon Centers throughout the state.> "> > > "> The chert glades of Joplin are a globally unique habitat found only in a > small area of southwest Missouri. The two best examples are found right here > in Wildcat Park,> "> added Mike Skinner, Missouri Department of Conservation > Biologist. > "> By creating a nature center that uses this local natural > feature as an educational tool and outdoor classroom, we can help people > throughout this community and the state better understand the biological gems > we are blessed with in Missouri.> "> > > The next step on this project is to complete the Center> '> s business plan, > which is now in its final stages. And as this plan nears completion, many > new elements have already been fleshed out, including target audiences, > program ideas, conservation work, and building components. After conducting > a thorough assessment of community needs, the Center> '> s Stewardship Board > has determined programs will focus on youth, elementary schoolchildren, > families, and tourists. However, these groups won> '> t be the only ones > served. Programming will also be developed for secondary schoolchildren, > seniors, teachers, and civic groups. > > Programming ideas vary according to the needs and skills of each audience, > but will range from indoor activities with crafts, video and lab equipment to > outdoor programs with learning stations focused around natural features such > as caves, ponds, streams and glades. Three nature trails are planned to > serve as backdrops for the outdoor classroom activities, as will Shoal Creek, > which runs through Wildcat Park. All of the Center> '> s programming will > emphasize hands-on learning, which helps participants understand and connect > with the natural world. Programs for schoolchildren will integrate with > classroom curriculum. > > Proposed conservation projects include native plant gardens at the front > entrance to the Center, and habitat restoration throughout the park> '> s 150 > acres of glades, bottomland woodlands, and stream areas. The partners will > also study the role of the Center site in the greater Spring River watershed > and develop additional conservation projects in keeping with the needs of > this broader ecosystem. > "> There are aquatic species that are found only > in Shoal Creek and Spring River and no where else in the world such as small > fish like the Neosho Madtom, as well as certain other darters and unique > mussels,> "> states Tony Robyn, Audubon Center Director. > > In keeping with Audubon> '> s mission of using environmentally sustainable > building practices for its centers, the Wildcat Glades Conservation and > Audubon Center will be designed with the help of National Audubon> '> s > in-house Green Buildings Director and Crowder College in Neosho, a national > leader in sustainable design. Green architectural design elements include > energy efficient lighting and heating components, water conservation > measures, recycled building materials and hydroelectric energy from a small > adjacent pond dam. > > The Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center is a cornerstone of > Audubon> '> s 2020 Vision, a national environmental education initiative to > create a network of Audubon Centers across the country providing children and > others with direct experiences in nature. Through programs that encourage > hands-on discovery and learning, Audubon Centers help visitors better > understand the natural world around them and inspire and a passion for taking > care of it. > > 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. > # # # > > > > --------------------------------- > Kristy A. Wright > Media Representative > > National Audubon Society > 700 Broadway > New York, NY 10003 > 212.979.3027 > www.audubon.org > 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.