A bright yellow sea of goldenrod stretches across the meadows and mudflats of Bone Hill Road in Cummaquid as it winds its way to the entrance to the Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, where the 110-acre setting is now home to a brand new discovery center.
The new building opened last week with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by Mass Audubon officials and Long Pasture supporters.
A $ 1.8 million fundraising campaign, which began in the spring of 2020, saw the successful completion of the building, which complements other modest structures in the historic sanctuary setting next to Old King’s Highway and, according to the director by Long Pasture Ian Ives, is designed “to improve the way we do our work, (rather than) expand it.
Along with its many programs for children and adults, the sanctuary continues to focus on work to help restore the region’s wetlands and manage salt marsh areas to help mitigate the effects of change. climate. Long Pasture, added Ives, is working to promote Mass Audubon’s statewide education and diversity “action plan”; habitat conservation and management; and advocacy, especially at a time of heightened climate concerns.
A tour of the New Discovery Center with Ives reveals light-flooded classrooms containing airy gable spaces and generous floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking perfect views of Barnstable Harbor, Barrier Beach, and Sandy Neck Lighthouse.
In addition, the sanctuary is now fully ADA certified, after the completion of extensive work to improve classification, parking and a number of walking trails accessible to all skill levels. It is a net zero building, which uses no more energy than it produces, with a solar panel on the roof that meets the heating and cooling demand of the entire building.
The walls are adorned with murals and bas-relief sculptures of flying birds, created by Cape Cod mural artist and illustrator, Barbara Harmon. The outdoor reception area displays the wall-sized scene of Harmon’s dunes, ocean, birds and sky, while on the top panes, solar art by Peter Erskine creates pleasant rainbow prisms.
Another wall contains what Ives called an “encapsulated ecosystem” created by Harmon, which uses a combination of analog and digital art in a floor-to-ceiling mural depicting the native flora and fauna flourishing in the area. around a spring pool. “Water is life,” said Ives, and the mural depicts hundreds of creatures, from birds in flight to the smallest of invertebrates incubating in the isolated woodland habitat. The more you look, the more creatures you spot, and Ives explained that there would be a numbered “key” next to the mural to help visitors find and identify its many features.
An interactive touchscreen just inside a window, connected to a computer at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, will allow people to identify and learn more about birds at outdoor feeders.
One feature is strictly ‘for the birds’: a pattern of markers, or decal-type stickers, has been added to the large picture windows to prevent birds from hitting the windows – Ives said that’ over a billion birds die every year ”from such collisions. The markers are almost invisible from the inside, while also having a deterrent effect on birds outside.
The building, said Ives, fulfills one of the Centre’s primary needs: that of a “large, multi-functional program space” for youth and adult activities. The Center offers a variety of curriculum-based programs for students at 13 different Cape Town schools, and can now offer expanded space for discussions, lectures and other adult functions.
Two smaller classroom spaces can be combined into one large room that can accommodate 80 people, including two 70-inch video screens that can be linked for various events. The new indoor sink and counter space allow plants, seashells and small creatures to be brought inside the mudflats for a closer inspection.
What do children like the most about the Centre’s nature programs? “All that is practical! Said Ives. All the things that put them “face to face with wildlife and the outdoors”. The shrine also continues to operate its licensed preschool program which accommodates 20 children, ages 3 to 5.
Cape Cod Wildlife Festival
Visitors will have the chance to see the new Discovery Center on September 11, when the sanctuary hosts the 10th annual Cape Cod Wildlife Festival, hosted by the Cape Cod Wildlife Collaborative, whose member organizations will present displays of their work and of their activities.
Besides Long Pasture, the collaboration partners are: Barnstable Clean Water Coalition, Cape Wildlife Center, Center for Coastal Studies, IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue & Research, National Marine Life Center, Orenda Wildlife Land Trust, Whale & Dolphin Conservation and Wild Care.
A live animal show will be presented by Amazing Animal Ambassadors, and there will be book signings, food trucks and live music from local band Just Another Guru. The festival is free for the public.
The Mass Audubon Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary is located at 345 Bone Hill Rd. (Route 6A) in Barnstable. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the trails are open from dawn to dusk. 508-362-7475, https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/long-pasture
The sanctuary hosts the 10th annual Cape Cod Wildlife Festival this Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free, donations are welcome.