RENEST & RENEWAL
Returning to Nature & Restoring Connection
To say that the past two years have been a challenge is an understatement! Together our society has braved a novel virus, shutdowns, economic uncertainty, and political unrest. One thing that has not changed is human’s core connection to nature, and the positive impact it has on our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Thanks to community support, Center for Wildlife was not only able to remain open every day to serve wildlife and the community during a global pandemic, we were also able to complete funding, construction, and operational transition to our brand new facility. The results have been a vast improvement in providing care for patients, retaining competitive staff, hosting interns and apprentices from across the country, and the start of hosting nature center visitors, school field trips, adult naturalist programs and so much more.
Now that our indoor space is resolved and basic campus needs for occupancy have been installed, and our ambassadors are nestled in their new enclosures, we now turn to Phase 2 in our multi-year project.
Our Goal for Current Phase:
Some of what our Renest & Renewal
Campaign will provide:
Returning the old property to nature
Accessible forest paths & boardwalks
Sensory learning spaces, natural play spaces, green living & learning spaces...
When Center for Wildlife saw the critical need for our expanded facility and campus in 2014, we also need to make sure that the location best served wildlife and the community for decades to come. To that end, we asked questions like “where is the biggest gap in services like ours in the region?” and “what do our patients and ambassadors need”? Turns out, our location on Mountain Road, adjacent to 16,000 acres of conservation land yet just 15 minutes from 95 was indeed the perfect location.
At the time, we were leasing 13 acres from the York Water District, and 4.5 of those acres fall within the Chases Pond Watershed. YWD has been very supportive of Center for Wildlife’s work and generously rented the property to us for almost nothing each year. They are prohibited from selling land that falls inside of the watershed, and after a mini-campaign in 2016 they sold us 8.5 of the acres that fell outside of the watershed, with the commitment of Center for Wildlife restoring the remainder of the property back to natural, ensuring water quality along with wildlife and habitat conservation in perpetuity.
We are so proud to have accomplished the first two phases of our multi-year and multi-phased campaign: purchasing the land and fundraising, building, and transitioning 34 years of operations to our new state-of-the-art facility. With work on the outdoor campus underway (though slightly delayed by Covid supply chain and contractor issues), we turn to the next phase “Renest and Renewal: Returning to Nature and Restoring Connection.”
Why: Recent studies in the emergent field of ecopsychology show that time in nature can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood. Loss of time in nature translates to a decline in value of self and the environment. The past several years with severe storms and emergent disease show us now more than ever how important it is to steward our wildlife, environmental, and human health.
Why now? In the past decade, a changing climate has called for increased attention to resilient habitats and the pressures that wildlife and the environment face with introduced challenges like habitat loss, toxins in the environment, and extreme weather patterns (warming winters, drought, and flooding in our area). At the same time, humans and wildlife that share the same ecosystems are encountering emerging infectious disease like Covid 19, Avian Influenza, and new tick-borne illnesses. Though this may be daunting, we know there is hope because the interest in our work and visiting our facility is greater than ever. State and federal wildlife agencies, veterinary diagnostics labs, land trusts, and human health advocates are now working in collaboration instead of silos as the need for healthy wildlife and environments for our own wellbeing can no longer be ignored.
Center for Wildlife is uniquely positioned to serve our community at this time and address these critical needs by:
Hosting field trips for all ages and offering sliding scale programming to teach the concepts of ecology and stewardship in local habitats and with the wildlife that can be discovered in them
Offering a place for adults to re-connect or deepen their connection with nature, learn about and participate in citizen science
Restoring the former property to natural, sharing and documenting our process to encourage ecologically sensitive residential and commercial development and restoration
Creating universally and economically accessible exhibits and programming to connect all members of the community to the benefits of nature
Performing engineering and sitework to lay the foundation for the next phase which addresses the replacement of older rehabilitation enclosures on the former site
Creation of an interactive map and installation of boardwalks, children’s natural play area, outdoor exhibits and improved trails to foster appreciation of and time in nature
Goals and features of the Renest and Renewal will allow us to better perform our work for wildlife and the community, along with providing a safe and beautiful space in nature for our patients, ambassadors, and visitors to slow down and connect.