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Local Outdoor Education Center Continues to Grow | Environment

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Local Outdoor Education Center Continues to Grow
Local Outdoor Education Center Continues to Grow

In 2006, the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway began using a tent near it’s trailhead as a temporary pavilion structure. The tent was set up in spring and taken down shortly after the last fall event Treats and Trails. Throughout the warmer seasons, school groups, community programs, company picnics, church services, community events and general visitors used the tent as a sitting, gathering and staging area. The tent and the picnic tables under were used on a daily basis.

During the past year, with the growth of programs and the increasing wear and tear on the seasonal tent guiding our plans, the Center began raising money for a larger, permanent structure. “The new structure will be larger than the tent and provide new opportunities for program and event use.” said ODCMG Program Director, Jamie Krupka. “The pavilion will have picnic tables for general visitors and organized groups use in addition to having a restroom an indoor classroom space.”

Landscaping around the area will totally change the look and feel of the Center’s trailhead making it both more inviting and complimentary to the natural surroundings. The area will include an outdoor fire pit and new connections to the trail system, wildlife viewing area and the children’s nature play area called the Imagination Forest. A new wildlife viewing platform will be added adjacent to the pavilion area so people can have better and safer access to animals in the DeWitt Wildlife Education Facility enclosure.

Plans for the expansion have been made possible thanks to the generous support of Landscape Design Services, CL Construction and Porter Corp. “Supporters of the project have truly embraced the idea and need, and have helped to make the plans possible.” said the Center’s Executive Director, Travis Williams.  Williams said that the project officially began construction on January 9, 2012. Taking advantage of the mild weather, the site preparations and footing construction has begun. The goal is to get the foundation completed and ready for construction in early spring.

The Center plans to complete the Pavilion project by May in order to be ready for use by the 4,000 – 5,000 people who regularly visit the ODC Nature Preserve for programs during that month. Not only will this give the site a new program facility, but also a redesigned trail head, wildlife viewing area and an open air community gathering point. The project will provide a unique connection to the natural elements of the Outdoor Discovery Center nature preserve for all visitors to the site.

To learn more about the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway or the expansion project, contact the office at 616.393.9453 or visit www.outdoordiscovercenter.org.

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