Trinity River Audubon Center Debuts with a Dedication

Center Opens to the Public on October 18-19 with Free Admission

For immediate release:

PRESS CONTACT:

Juliette Coulter, Trinity River Audubon Center, 214.366.2626 or 214.394.5532


DALLAS, Texas (October 10, 2008)
– National Audubon Society President John Flicker, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, state representatives, city officials and invited guests will cut the ribbon and dedicate the new Trinity River Audubon Center on Friday, Oct. 17.  Open to the public on Saturday, Oct. 18, everyone is invited to attend Natural Connections, a grand opening celebration with workshops, tours, trail hikes and children’s nature play activities.

Built on top of a reclaimed, former landfill, the Trinity River Audubon Center (TRAC) is the first major signature development for the Trinity River Corridor Project, a $2 billion City of Dallas public works project.

A flagship location for the National Audubon Society, TRAC is located just eight minutes from downtown Dallas on 120 acres of the Great Trinity Forest—the largest urban bottomland hardwood forest in the United States. The Center will serve as the gateway to the Great Trinity Forest, which is more than 6,000 acres.

Anne Brown, vice president of National Audubon Society, said, “The building is uniquely designed so that everywhere you are, you are drawn to the outside.  The building takes in the Blackland Prairie; you also have the bottomland hardwood forest and surrounding wetlands.”

In addition to bird watching and outdoor conservation programs and clubs, the Center will also serve as a teaching facility for 25,000 students, providing them with the option of wet laboratory as well as field-based experiences to help them learn difficult-to-grasp math and scientific concepts.

 

Flicker said, “One of my passions and a key priority for Audubon is connecting people with nature, whether they live in urban, suburban or rural areas.”  To achieve this goal, and as part of Audubon’s effort to engage broader and more diverse audiences, Flicker has overseen the addition of more than two dozen Audubon Centers, including 10 in urban areas such as Los Angeles, Brooklyn and now Dallas. “I envision each Center as the environmental equivalent of a local library, serving as a community resource for enjoying and learning about nature, and a hands-on laboratory for building environmental stewardship.”

“The completion of the Trinity River Audubon Center is a major milestone for Dallas and the Trinity River Corridor Project,” said Mayor Tom Leppert. “It uses reclaimed land that was once an illegal dumping ground, it conserves a 120-acre area of nature in the city, and it provides a living laboratory—an outdoor classroom—for students to have field experiences that will hopefully boost their interest in biology, nature and science.”

 

A Bird Takes Form

With its roots in bird watching, Audubon wanted a building that reflected its history, but also one that conserves resources and serves as a site for outdoor exploration and education.    Designed by Antoine Predock, renowned AIA Gold medal award-winning architect, the Center is sustainably built and LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold level certified, the first Dallas Park and Recreation building to strive for this designation.  The building mimics a bird with outstretched wings rising into flight.

 

Some of the building’s innovative green features:

·         Rainwater harvesting system for irrigation

·         Energy and water efficiency

·         Recycled construction materials (271,000 pairs of blue jeans recycled as insulation and 2.1 million milk jugs recycled into boardwalks)

·         Use of Texas-made products

·         Green roof on administrative wing of building

·         Drought tolerant landscaping with native plants

 

Bird Watching and Ecotourism

Bird watching draws many people to Texas to see peak migrations in March/April and mid-September through late October.  Another benefit of the Trinity River Audubon Center will be the growing trend of ecotourism in Texas, already a $1 billion industry.  A major part of that trend is birding.

Tourism is the third largest industry in Texas, after oil and gas production and agriculture.  Birding in Texas generates more than $350 million per year from 2.2 million participants, approximately one-quarter of which travel here from outside of the state.  (sources: U.S. Department of the Interior, 2003; Dean Runyon Associates, 2005).

Brown said, “People now fly into Dallas/Fort Worth, but often bypass Dallas and drive through East Texas to Houston and the coasts to go birding.  The Trinity River Audubon Center will allow them to come into Dallas, have the opportunity to see more than 50 resident species, and then go on their way.”

Because of where the Trinity River is located in Texas, it’s the largest fresh water inflow into Galveston Bay. The Trinity River is critical for birds because it’s a migratory pass between the northern and southern hemispheres.  More than 600 migratory species come into Texas, the most of any state in the country.

“Keeping with that, we’ve engaged Cornell Lab of Ornithology to provide us with their eBird tracking system at the Center, so people can go birding and then enter the birds into this system.  Through Cornell, we will also stream live video of nesting birds.  We’ve also hired a citizen science manager, Dr. Jeanette Boylan, who will work with Cornell on enhancing our citizen science program, as Cornell is well known for its citizen science program.  Also, we’ll showcase some of Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s research and science documentaries.”

In addition to educational initiatives and bird watching, the Center will offer something for everyone including guided nature walks for visitors of all ages, academic lectures, workshops, nature yoga, exhibits, nature clubs and more.  For a complete list of activities, visit www.trinityriveraudubon.org.

Grand Opening: Natural Connections: October 18-19, 2008
The community is invited to the Trinity River Audubon Center’s grand opening, Natural Connections, on Oct. 18 and 19, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.  Admission is free all weekend.   Activities include guided trail hikes, birds of prey, Children’s Discovery Garden, backyard bird feeding, nature play activities for children, outdoor skills clinics (backpacking, back country cooking, hiking), keeping chickens in your backyard, urban beekeeping, organic gardening tips and more.  Ongoing, there are activities, classes, field trips and bird watching for people of all ages.  A complete list of up-to-date activities can be found at www.trinityriveraudubon.org or by calling 214.370.9967.

Special thanks goes to the following foundations for their generous gifts for the building’s sustainability features: The Meadows Foundation (also for educational programs), The Boone Family Foundation and the Eugene McDermott Foundation.

Grand opening sponsors include the following: Green Heron Sponsors: Nissan, REI, People Newspapers, City of Dallas.  Belted Kingfisher Sponsors: TXU, Pizza Hut, DART, Univision and Clear Channel.  American Kestrel Sponsors: Sedalco.

Starting October 21, the Center will be open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.  On the third Thursday of each month, the hours are 9 a.m.-9 p.m., with free admission. The Center is closed Mondays and major holidays.  Admission is $3 children (ages 3-12); $4 seniors (ages 60+); $6 adults (ages 13-59), and free on the third Thursday of each month.  Memberships start at $60.

About The Trinity River Audubon Center:

Sustainably built and LEED-certified gold, the Trinity River Audubon Center is situated on 120 acres of the Great Trinity Forest, the largest urban bottomland hardwood forest in the U.S.  TRAC represents a combined $37 million restoration and capital improvement project that was funded and built by the City of Dallas.  The Center is a partnership between the City of Dallas and the National Audubon Society.  Located just eight minutes from downtown Dallas, TRAC is the flagship for Audubon’s science education and conservation initiatives in Texas.  The Center is located at 6500 S. Loop 12, Dallas, TX 75217.  More information can be found by calling 214-370-9967 or at www.trinityriveraudubon.org.