The well-used parish building in Railroad Bridge Park isn’t the only thing that will be remodeled in 2021.
On September 10, the board members unanimously agreed to change the name of the Dungeness River Audubon Center to the Dungeness River Nature Center, the organization announced earlier this month.
The new name reflects the educational mission of the River Center to bring children and adults closer to the natural environment of the Dungeness River basin, the organization said in a press release in early September.
“We were asked to change the name so people would understand that our job is to honor all of the natural and cultural resources of the Dungeness River basin,” said Powell Jones, director and park manager of the River Center.
“While we want to continue to be a bird stop, we want visitors to learn about the unique ecosystems and inhabitants of the Dungeness River, which include salmon, mammals, insects and plants,” says Jones.
“We also want to be a place where people can learn about the special relationship the Jamestown tribe has had with this watershed since time immemorial.”
River Center partners, including the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society, and the state and national Audubon Societies, are supporting the name change, River Center officials said.
The River Center Board of Directors also decided to rewrite a new mission statement – “To inspire understanding, respect and responsibility for our natural and cultural resources” – along with the adoption of a new logo bearing the new name.
Jones said, “Because the River Center covers such a wide range of subjects, including everything from wildflowers, trees, insects, coyotes, hummingbirds, and everything in between; We also found it important that our mission statement be revised to best describe what we do. “
The Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society will continue to sponsor and host bird-centered programs, excursions, BirdFest and courses, said Ken Wiersma, president of the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society.
“Audubon” has been part of the River Center’s name and logo since 1997.
“Although we will miss the name Audubon at the center, the new name represents a more comprehensive commitment by each partner to understanding and dealing with our natural environment,” he said. “The National Audubon Society and its State Office will continue to work in partnership with the Center to achieve our common goals.
“We have been active partners in the designs and capabilities built into the expanded center. As a purely voluntary organization and the smallest of the local partners, we are full of energy and ready to join the center and do our part.
“We are happy to see the Pileated Woodpecker in Salish art in the new logo.”
Extension, conversion set
The River Center, slated to reopen sometime this fall, is five times larger than the original building in Railroad Bridge Park and will attempt to incorporate the local natural history and S’Klallam culture of the Olympic Peninsula.
The expanded and remodeled facility includes a meeting room for 150 people, a small conference / class room, an exhibition room, a new office, a gift shop, a commercial catering kitchen, a food stand, an animal observation room, an atrium and a large terrace for outdoor Activities.
The River Center is located in the 75-acre Railroad Bridge Park, owned by the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe and an active partner in the center since 1994. including maintenance of the historic railroad bridge that crosses the Dungeness River.
“Our tribe is very excited about this addition to the Dungeness River Center,” said W. Ron Allen, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Chair and CEO. “The new name and logo reflect a shift in the purpose of this tribal / community program – one that will educate many generations about the importance of the river and fish and wildlife habitat to our community.
“The center is truly becoming a destination that honors the beauty of the Olympic Peninsula.”
The first iteration of the River Center, the Sequim Natural History Museum, was founded by volunteers in 1984 in a single classroom in the old high school building, ”said Annette Hanson, chairman and co-founder.
“In 1994, our first board members envisioned a place where we could teach about the natural history of our area and the importance of respecting and conserving our wildlife and the environment,” said Hanson. “We wanted to show the complexity of the Dungeness River. We envisioned and planned a center where all people can visit, learn and feel welcome in the beautiful and natural surroundings of the Railroad Bridge Park.
“Our vision was big, but we started small in 2001 with the opening of the first River Center building. Fast forward – now is the right time – our vision becomes reality! We are so grateful for our partners, our community and donors who help make our shared vision a reality. We are nearly there.”
Follow the River Center expansion with updates and more online at dungenessrivercenter.org/construction-updates.
First event at the River Center canceled
The first event of the new River Center, which will take place on October 1st, an after dark walk through an illuminated Railroad Bridge Park, has been canceled for safety reasons.
The decision to cancel was made on September 10 due to an unexpected spike in the delta variant of COVID-19 infections in Clallam and Jefferson counties, organizers said.
This event was offered to the public free of charge and was intended to give the public a little insight into the new facility.
The event included lighted paper mache animal figures displayed throughout the Railroad Bridge Park in the dark, and the bridge was lit with white fairy lights. A 45-minute puppet show presented by the String & Shadow Puppet Theater was scheduled for a 7pm performance. The organizer Janine Miller, a resident of Sequim, had planned and coordinated the event for the past three months with the River Center and numerous artists from the Salish Sea area.
“We expected this event to draw hundreds of people, old and young, through the main gate, onto the bridge, and over the Olympic Discovery Trail,” said Powell Jones, River Center director and park manager. “But we have to go on the side of safety for the public and for our volunteers who should have watched the event in the dark.”