Natural Connections Program: Bringing New Life to the Groton Nature Center

Natural Connections Program: Bringing New Life to the Groton Nature Center


Over 75,000 people visit the state parks in Groton State Forest every summer. A restored Nature Center can play a critical role in teaching visitors about the outdoors and inspiring a love of nature in all those visitors.” —Craig Whipple, Director of Vermont State Parks
The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation has developed conceptual site and building plans for improvements to the Groton Nature Center and would like your input and comments. Through the link below, you can review the plans for the Groton Nature Center and provide comments via email. Public comment will be open from April 18 to May 10, 2019. View the plan.
Vermont State Parks is working together with Vermont Parks Forever and ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain to re-design and update the Groton Nature Center that will feature new interactive learning opportunities highlighting Groton’s geology and its natural and cultural history. This is the first joint nature center project in the Vermont State Park system under the Vermont Parks Forever, Natural Connections Program. Vermont Parks Forever has fundraised to support the new exhibits and learning features while Vermont State Parks is renovating the building to host these newly designed interpretive features. The project will be completed and open to the public for the 2020 summer.
The Groton Nature Center was built in 1981 and has virtually stayed the same for the last 38 years with the exception of minor exhibit improvements by our talented seasonal employees and volunteers. The nature center serves the seven state parks in the Groton State Forest and is within walking distance of Big Deer, Stillwater and Boulder Beach state parks. Kettle Pond, New Discovery, Ricker Pond, and Seyon Lodge state parks are all just a short drive away.
The Groton Nature Center was built in 1981 and has virtually stayed the same for the last 38 years with the exception of minor exhibit improvements by our talented seasonal employees and volunteers. The nature center serves the seven state parks in the Groton State Forest and is within walking distance of Big DeerStillwater and Boulder Beach state parks. Kettle PondNew DiscoveryRicker Pond, and Seyon Lodge state parks are all just a short drive away.

The current exhibits/displays and interpretive programs have focused on the area's plants, geology,
wildlife and history. Many surrounding schools use the center for beginning and end of the school year learning opportunities. Special events, concerts and community activities have also been held here. And, it is the year-round trail head for many of the Forest’s hiking and multiple use trails.

The conceptual design introduces:

  • An updated site plan with accessible trails, parking and facilities to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
  • Enhanced interior visitor space for new displays and exhibits that focus on the natural history and communities and the cultural and human history of the area.
  • Added covered exterior visitor space for gatherings, programs and events.
  • Improved accessible bathroom facilities to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
  • Enhanced water and wastewater systems.
  • Energy efficient building design.
Maclay Architects along with the SE Group, Engineering Ventures, EngVT and Erickson Consulting are in the process of developing cost estimates for the conceptual plans. The project may need to be phased as indicated on the plans, but the priority is the renovation of the nature center building and the install of new exhibits and displays. Construction is scheduled for the fall/winter of 2019/2020.
Comments and suggestions are welcome until May 10, 2019 by emailing susan.bulmer@vermont.gov






About Vermont Parks Forever - Natural Connections:
Vermont Parks Forever, the foundation for Vermont State Parks, works to enhance and preserve the parks through the charitable support of generous individuals, foundations, and businesses. VPF provides innovative education opportunities in the parks like the Natural Connections project, increases park access for underserved communities, and inspires stewardship of natural places.

To learn more about VPF, Natural Connections, and to support this project visit 
https://vermontparksforever.org/natural-connections/

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