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Back to full staff, days of operation, Bear Creek Nature Center offers 'Happy Trails' event Aug. 14

Volunteers help weed outside the Bear Creek Nature Center.
Westside Pioneer file photo
In a year when staff and days of operation have been able to expand, the Bear Creek Nature Center hopes to inspire even more generosity with its annual Happy Trails Barbecue Friday, Aug. 14 from 6 to 9 p.m.
       The event will be at the center, 245 Bear Creek Road.
       Included will be live music and a catered barbecue plus dessert, beer and wine. Admission is $40 a person.
       Free and open to the public on a normal basis, the center is owned by El Paso County Parks, which has seen its budget slashed in recent years. This had the effect six years ago of reducing a full-time staffer to part-time and forcing both Bear Creek and its sister center in the Fountain area to close on Tuesdays.
       But financial aid from the volunteer Friends of El Paso County Nature Centers fixed that problem, according to Todd Marts, director of both the Bear Creek and Fountain Creek nature centers. The money came from Friends programming, individual donations and “other things they raise money for,” he said.
       As a result, both centers have returned to having two full-time staff and being open Tuesdays through Saturdays (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). The position that's full-time again is that of interpretive program coordinator.
       “It's very difficult to run a building with one full-time staff person,” Marts elaborated. “We needed a second person to provide services. We've relied on volunteers, and they've been really great and we couldn't do it without them. But they often move on, and we really need the continuity of a paid person.”
       A current, major fundraising goal for the center is to pay for updated exhibits by gathering $50,000 in donations to augment the $150,000 from last November's voter-approved Ballot Issue 1A.
       Because of limited space, advance reservations are suggested for Happy Trails. For more information, call the Nature Center at 520-6387.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 8/5/15; Outdoors Bear Creek Nature Center)

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