• From: "BIANCHI, John" <JBIANCHI@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <audubon-news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2003 15:50:31 -0500

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> Contact: Linda Vanderveer
> lvanderveer@xxxxxxxxxxx <mailto:lvanderveer@xxxxxxxxxxx>
> 212-979-3197
> 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.
> #   #   #

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