Using $750 million in Recovery funding, the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service is underwriting approximately 800 different maintenance and rehab projects at nearly 400 national parks and monuments around the country. The Department of Agriculture’s National Forest Service similarly received $63 million for improvements needed at some visitor centers, which serve as information hubs for respective national forests and parks.
Furnace Creek Visitor Center – Death Valley National Park, California
Newly renovated Furnace Creek Visitor Center.
The same heating and cooling units originally installed 50 years ago when this visitor center was built were barely operating when officials began renovations in November 2010. Insulation in the brick walls and single-pane windows had decayed and no longer kept out the summer heat or winter cold.
Improvements funded by $1.1 million of Recovery contracts include new solar panels, wall and ceiling insulation, thermo-pane windows, and energy efficient HVAC systems, all of which are expected to reduce the center’s energy bill by as much as $14,000 a year. Exhibits will be updated, and a new introductory film incorporating recently learned information and facts about Death Valley is being made.
All work is expected to be complete by spring of 2012.
Quarry Visitor Center and Quarry Exhibit Hall – Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado
Before renovation, the Quarry Visitor Center was "literally falling apart," according to the Department of the Interior Inspector General.
The Dinosaur National Monument in southern Colorado received $13.1 million to rehab two ageing facilities, the Quarry Visitor Center and Quarry Exhibit Hall. Both structures are located at the world-renowned Carnegie Quarry, which contains almost 1,500 dinosaur bones dating back 149 million years to the Jurassic Period.
The Fossil Wall.
Deferred maintenance had caused both facilities to fall into disrepair, even requiring partial demolition of the visitor center. According to a 2008 Department of the Interior Inspector General report, the facilities were “literally falling apart.” But after 18 months of renovation work, the two buildings recently reopened.
The 7,600-square-foot Quarry Visitor Center includes a theater and a bookstore. The 10,500-square-foot, steel-and-glass Quarry Exhibit Hall is built into a cliff face that has dinosaur bones embedded in the rock, creating the extremely popular “Fossil Wall.” The facility includes exhibits and displays about dinosaurs and other life from the Jurassic era.
Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.
Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center – Tongass National Forest, Alaska
Opening in 1962, the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in the Tongass National Forest near Juneau was the first visitor center built by the National Forest Service. Recently renovated with $1.6 million in Recovery funds, the facility’s improvements include upgrades to audio-visual equipment and interpretive displays as well as the installation of energy-efficient lighting and climate-control systems.
Also, portions of nearby trails were rerouted to meet accessibility standards with a ramp and observation platform.
The Mendenhall Center attracts more than 400,000 visitors each year.
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