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Environmental Education Center Planned for McClellan Ranch Park

The new center will bring nature education to Cupertino students.

Due to substantial funding, plans to move ahead of schedule to create the Environmental Education Center at McClellan Ranch were approved by the Cupertino City Council at Tuesday’s meeting.

The center was a project approved as part of the 2013-2014 Capital Improvement program, but to take advantage of a $251,000 state grant has been slated to being Nov. 2.

An original grant expired, but Gale Seeds of the Cupertino Public Works department was able to win approval of the renewed grant allowing for design work to begin.

Additional funding of $1.1 million will come from taxpayer funds, $800,000 from Park Fees collected from the Rose Bowl Mixed Use Project, a project that was approved by the city in 2005, and $349,000 from general fund reserves, said Timm Borden Director of Public Works on the Cupertino Economic Development Committee.

“It’s a great 1.1 million dollar investment,” said Councilmember Gilbert Wong.

The 2,800 square-foot center will be located at the 23-acre McClellan Ranch Park and include two classrooms—one large, one smaller—a small wet lab, exhibits of live animals, plants, and nature, teacher stations, naturalist office, building infrastructure and circulation, and restrooms, according to Borden. It will also include an outdoor gather shelter, he said.

Currently the Environmental Education Center is a part of Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge, in Alviso, where tours and programs about nature are available for both children and adults.

Among the programs available: Third grade creek study program, a K-6 school natural program, high school field studies, summer youth camp, Saturday nature program, college field trips and research program, and San Jose Conservation Corps Training.

Councilmember Barry Chang said local students’ and teachers’ have expressed excitement to him about the center, and feels it will provide a great change from current overcrowded classrooms.

Frank Geefay October 04, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Good job City Council. This is a great investment in our youth. Our children need to be exposed, as good stewards, to the environment and nature as early as possible. So much of our community has isolated itself away from nature and our fantastic open spaces immediately outside of Cupertino which I have grown to love, enjoy, and respect. Seven Springs Trail: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=1422421 Fremont Older Open Space Starting from Regnart Rd.: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=1407151
Mark Burns October 04, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Perhaps they can use some of the money to mitigate the manure smell that wafts into the surrounding residential neighborhoods in the Summer. That would generate additional support from the community for the rest of the programs as well.
Mark Burns October 04, 2012 at 07:59 PM
And possibly reduce some of those pesky greenhouse gases everyone seems so concerned about.
Deborah Jamison October 10, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Thanks for your comments; I agree whole heartedly and will add that adults too need to learn about our local natural history and be good stewards of our environment . I encourage interested residents to stay informed and be involved in the progress of this project. Many decisions like location of the new center and use of the old nature center (which was the ranch's garage) are important aspects of the overall plan and have consequences for the protection of McClellan Ranch as a Nature and Rural Preserve. The city web site has a form to receive notifications on this and other projects that impact the lands along Stevens Creek (corridor project).
Deborah Jamison October 10, 2012 at 06:25 PM
There are many other improvements needed at McClellan Ranch Preserve. I hope that some capital improvement funds will be used for those this fiscal year so that the new environmental center is not placed in a neglected city nature preserve.

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