Hagerman Wildlife Refuge granted millions for visitors center - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Hagerman Wildlife Refuge granted millions for visitors center

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From the U.S. Dept. of the Interior:

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has awarded $3,637,935 for a new visitor's center located at the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).

Of the over $3.5 million, $2,835,300 was allocated to Imperial Construction, Inc. of Weatherford, Texas to build a portion of the center at the refuge under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act).

In addition, the Service awarded $356,237 to Catalyst Architecture of Prescott, Ariz. for the design of the new building, and $446,398 to Capitol Exhibits of Manassas, Va. to provide the exhibits for the new building.

A groundbreaking ceremony will take place on July 14, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.

The new building will provide approximately 3,200 square feet of administrative office space plus a 4,600 square foot visitor center that will include exhibits showcasing the important marshland and upland habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl. In addition a 1,500 square foot multipurpose room will provide space for environmental-education programs and special events hosted by the refuge and Friends of Hagerman. Native plants and outdoor interpretive exhibits will also enhance the experience for all visitors.

With only a 17-mile drive to the Oklahoma state line, Hagerman NWR not only hosts visitors from Texas but also from Oklahoma. The new visitor's center was a necessity after a majority of the existing building shifted 3-6 inches due to a soil problem that was unknown when the original facility was built in 1984.

Hagerman will be only the second LEED building in the Southwest Region of the Service. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the green building program of the U.S. Green Building Council. Buildings get rated at various levels, starting with Certified, Silver, Gold, then Platinum, with the higher levels exemplifying better energy and environmental design. It is a point rating system that includes the design and activities during construction and post-construction commissioning.

Funding for these projects and hundreds more across the nation comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Of the $3 billion appropriated to the Department of the Interior, the Act provides $280 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service's Southwest Region received $28.8 million for 114 construction, energy-efficiency, habitat-restoration, and other improvement projects at national wildlife refuges, fish hatcheries, and other public and private lands. The projects represent priority needs, generate the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time, and create lasting value for the American public.

The Recovery Act funds represent an important component of the President's plan to jumpstart the economy and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so the country can thrive in the 21st century.  Under the Recovery Act, Interior is making an investment in conserving America's timeless treasures – our stunning natural landscapes, our monuments to liberty, the icons of our culture and heritage – while helping American families and their communities prosper again. Interior is also focusing on renewable energy projects, the needs of American Indians, employing youth and promoting community service.

Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department's economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on www.recovery.gov and on http://recovery.doi.gov. Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force to work closely with Interior's Inspector General and ensure the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency set by President Obama.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service is both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service.

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