• From: "BIANCHI, John" <JBIANCHI@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <Audubon-news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2003 17:30:26 -0500

> Contact: Linda Vanderveer
> 212/979-3197
> lvanderveer@xxxxxxxxxxx 
> 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

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