MARION (WSIL) — Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is finally seeing plans come to life for their new headquarters and visitor center after years of planning.
“We’re excited to currently be moving into our new headquarters located here on Crab Orchard Lake,” says Justin Sexton, Wildlife Refuge Manager.
Sexton says plans for the new headquarters began nearly 10 years ago.
“The planning began then on where we were going to put the new facility. Had to figure out what we were going to with the old one. Had to demolish that building and then work through our deferred maintenance program to actually have the dollars to build this building. We’re excited that for phase 2, the new visitor center, we’re not going to have to wait, we’re going to begin construction immediately.”
The new visitor center will be attached to the headquarters in Williamson County and Sexton says they plan to break ground by the end of the year.
“We’ve got a nice open lobby here where people will come. Obviously you can get brochures, get other information, talk to our staff, figure out whats going on with the refuge,” explains Sexton.
The project will be a big upgrade for both staff and visitors.
“The Great American Outdoor Act, Congress provided appropriations for the Fish and Wildlife Service. Through that act that will be purchasing through this so it’ll be a couple million dollar project that’ll be on the ground. Don’t know the final estimates yet but that’s what we’re shooting for,” says Sexton.
The new visitor’s center will be over 3,000 square feet, offering plenty of room for exhibits.
“We will have a pretty large exhibit hall which will have exhibits describing many things about the refuge. About our purpose and also there will be a large multi purpose room that we will be doing environmental education programs to school kids and other visitors,” adds Sexton.
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge says they have an abundance of outdoor activities. Sexton encourages all of us to head out!
Source: WSILTV.com (Jacie Brianne)