Nature Center to host open house for future plans

Published 7:59 am Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Whether it’s to earn a state designation, or to prioritize its goals for future projects, the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center invites the community to learn more about its goals during next Tuesday’s open house.

The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center will host an open house at the Ruby Rupner Auditorium from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5. There, the public will be able to get a firsthand look at draft master plans of what the nature center hopes to accomplish in the future.

A master plan helps provide a direction of sorts for what ideas the center wants to explore in the future, whether it’s land expansions, gathering ideas for funding resources and laying out financial costs, according to Luke Reese, director of the nature center.

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“The master plan provides a road map for future new things, whether it’s maintaining things we have or laying out cost estimates,” Reese said. “If we have a donor walking through the door, which we do from time to time, it’s nice to have something to show what they’re looking at, and see what interests them. It’s a nice resource to have for that purpose and excellent to use.”

There’s hope to complete the master plan by July as the center is working to get a designation as a regional significant park or trail by the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission. The designation also helps provide access to the state legacy fund, whose dollars could help fund different projects.

To earn this designation also requires a park to have a master plan, and if a park does not have a master plan that meets the state’s criteria, then it must create one. The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center applied for the designation last May and its application scored high.

Reese stated a master plan will provide the nature center with a better idea of what priorities staff can focus on for years to come and encourages the public to attend the open house to see what is potentially in store.

“We’re at a phase of collecting ideas and trying to be open-minded to what different opinions there are,” Reese said. “We’re looking at what potential there is to do some things differently and just taking a look at our resources, and utilizing it the best we can, and where we go in the future with it to have the best facility for people in our area and the state to enjoy.”