Woodland Regional Park Reserve will soon have new developments underway with the town’s new lease agreement with Tuleyome – a non-profit conservation organization based in Woodland – for the improvement and operation of a recreation center. environmental education on part of the reserve.
Sandra Schubert, executive director of Tuleyome, explained the importance of the education center – Center for Nature, Science and Culture – at the Woodland town council meeting on Tuesday.
“We see this as an opportunity for lifelong scientific learning,” she said. “It really focuses on how we move forward with facility design and working with our partners.”
Schubert noted that the facility will be ideal for enriching the education of K-12 students in the area through nature hikes, interactive exhibits, docents and a junior guide program.
“We’ll have kids teaching other kids through theatrical walking tours,” Schubert said of the junior guide program. “We’ve done a few of these already and they’re absolutely amazing.”
In addition to school programs, the center will also offer family programs, lectures, readings, theater, wildflower tours and stargazing, according to Schubert.
Construction of the education center will be completed in two separate phases, according to Schubert.
“Phase one, we focus first on the multi-purpose hall, laboratory, storage, restrooms, indoor and outdoor classrooms and walking path,” she said. “We’re going to start there because it will give us what we need to start facilitating the programs right away while we look for additional funds to do phase two.”
City Manager Ken Hiatt brought the item to council and noted that creating this park reserve has been a long time goal of the city.
“We have had a council goal for many cycles now with a desire to take what was once an old landfill the city owns off County Road 102 which is 160 acres and use it to provide a public amenity that provides opportunities for nearby access to open space and nature and habitat preservation,” Hiatt explained.
Tuleyome, with the help of Explorit Science Center, has secured more than $1.5 million through multiple grants from the California State Parks Department Outdoor Environmental Education Facilities Program, California Wildlife Conservation Board, and California State Parks Department Habitat Conservation Fund, to name a few.
The council initially authorized a lease to be entered into with Explorit Science Center in 2018 to help develop and operate the education center, but Tuleyome’s commitment to the project led to the two organizations mutually agreeing to transfer the lease to Tuleyome to reflect its increased role in the project, according to the staff report.
Stephanie Burgos, who does business engagement and marketing for the city, explained that it’s called a park reserve because it’s not your typical city park with a structure. playgrounds or football pitches.
“There were discussions to develop the site for various other purposes, but the city is ultimately moving forward with preserving this land through a conservation easement,” Burgos said. “It was identified as a future natural site for our community in the general plan of 1996 and remains referenced as a natural site in the general plan of 2035.”
Burgos noted that the process of changing from a landfill to a natural park was incredibly unique because a burrow pit that formed after the soil was excavated to cover the landfill eventually created a pond that has many native plants. .
“The site is also home to birds, coyotes and other wildlife,” Burgos added. “There are nearly 20 different plant species, including a federally endangered palmate-scaled bird’s-bill plant.”
Mayor Pro Tempore Victoria Fernandez asked if there would be a charge for residents or students to use any of the services or if it would be free.
“Our programs are free,” Schubert replied. “The way the fee could come in is for rental if we bring people to the site so we can use that money for maintenance.”
Councilman Tom Stallard noted that it is one of the few privileges enjoyed by people who hold public office.
“It’s an example of sustainable reuse of a park that was essentially a dump,” Stallard pointed out. “It’s a dramatic reconfiguration still emphasizing natural values and it’s right on the edge of the community.”
Stallard also highlighted the significance of the new park reserve for Spring Lake Elementary School, which is just steps away.
“The principal is so excited to have this fabulous location in the area within walking distance of campus and accessible to all children, not only in our community but in surrounding communities, which is why this is a reserve of regional park,” Stallard added.