Dorothy Pecaut Outdoor Improvement Project Close To Completion

Spring is in the air! And, although it felt like it a took a little longer to arrive this year, warmer days are ahead, perfect for enjoying the outdoors at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center.

This year visitors will be able to take advantage of some of the wonderful outdoor improvements the center was able to make from its $80,000 improvement project, funded in part by a grant from the Gilchrist Foundation. The project made some of its trails more handicap accessible and improved its Nature Playscape area.

The improvement project started last fall with the building of new limestone terracing at its Nature Playscape area. The terracing provides much-needed erosion relief for the area, but also additional seating and play, plus attractive landscaping. School groups, families and tourists all use the Playscape’s numerous play stations, exploration areas, tree house, music area, digging area, building area, climbing area and slides. It was designed to help bridge the increasing gap between children and nature.

New concrete trails were built last fall as well. These paths now allow for handicap accessibility from the parking lot and building to several areas of interest at the center. The concrete trail makes it possible for those in wheelchairs to easily view live birds of prey at the Raptor house, visit the Water Feature and watch children or grandchildren play at the Nature Playscape. The previous quartzite surface was difficult to impossible to navigate with a wheelchair. The concrete trail will also extend more than a half mile through the forest and include space for up to five rest areas for visitors to stop and view nature. The remaining concrete trails are slated to be completed by June 2018.

 “We’ve had visitors enjoy the slides and terraces and sidewalks behind the nature center for several months,” says Dawn Snyder, Education Programs Director. “Even in the winter, people visit our facility and Playscape when the weather allows. On Easter weekend, we had numerous visitors use the Playscape. Thanks to the Gilchrist Foundation and other generous donors for funding this project!”

These enhancements and more have made the Nature Center an award-winning educational facility that averages more than 55,000 visitors annually.

The Gilchrist Foundation was established by Jocelyn Gilchrist to support the family’s philanthropic interests in the Sioux City-area, including wildlife and conservation, the Arts and public broadcasting, disaster relief.

Shannon Wynn