By Gary Robson
Plans are moving forward at the Beartooth Nature Center for the eventual move to their new facility near Fox, about five miles outside of Red Lodge. The new site stretches from Highway 212 to Rock Creek, and includes a natural spring, pond, wetlands, creek, shade trees, and more.
Executive Director Jeff Ewelt is working with the board of directors and their designers to fit the new facility into the site as unintrusively as possible, leaving large portions of the land in its natural state. Hopefully, this will include elevated boardwalks to allow visitors to walk along the wetland areas without damaging the delicate marshlands.
The existing animals will get much larger enclosures, and there will also be areas set aside for migrating waterfowl and other animals to pass through and enjoy the setting.
Ewelt estimates that the project will cost about $8 to $10 million from start to finish, and the Nature Center plans to launch a huge capital campaign early this year to fund it. If you'd like to get involved, please call Ewelt at 406-446-1133. The Beartooth Nature Center is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization, so all contributions are tax deductible.
The cornerstone to the new project is a new visitor center, designed to quickly switch roles between housing exhibits for visitors, hosting educational classes and seminars, and opening up as a rental facility capable of serving over 400 people.
There will also be a gift shop, a children's play area, and dedicated classrooms. The design is being done to green standards with the intent of receiving accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The theme of the new facility will be "Experience Montana."
All of the animals at the Beartooth Nature Center are native to Montana. The current winter hours are 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
These drawings were prepared by Precision Plan and Design from Cody, Wyoming.
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