Birch Bay residents can expect to see a new interpretive center soon at Birch Bay State Park.
Park ranger and manager Ted Morris said the forthcoming structure will be named the BP Heron Center, and is the result of years of planning by Friends of Birch Bay State Park and the state parks system. The center is one of a slate of projects designed to repair and upgrade parks by the state park system’s 100th anniversary in 2013.
Recently-submitted permits call for a 2,400-square foot building sited in the day-use area of the park, near the salt water and Terrell Creek. Half of the building will be an enclosed meeting room, with covered picnic area making up the second half.
Morris said he envisions the center hosting some the park’s interpretive programs. At present, the park lacks sufficient covered space to accommodate the growing number of programs and participants. Groups will be able to reserve the entire building, and the picnic area will be open for day use when not reserved.
To complete the center, Morris said the park will utilize public and private funding, as well as volunteer labor.
So far over $140,000 has been donated, including $105,000 from BP Cherry Point Refinery and $25,000 from Alcoa Intalco Works.
“We’ve been very fortunate to get this much in private donations in such tough economic times,” Morris said.
The project is still accepting donations and seeking volunteers, according to Morris.
Despite limited state funding, Morris said he is hopeful that the project will be completed before the state park system’s centennial in 2013.