BP Heron Environmental Center breaks ground after years of planning

Published on Wed, Apr 24, 2013
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After close to a decade of planning and preparing, a dream is finally coming true. 

On April 20, the Friends of Birch Bay State Park finally broke ground on the space designated for the new BP Heron Center for  Environmental Education. The 2,400-square-foot structure will be used as an interpretative center and community meeting place. It will be built at the park’s day-use area. 

“Thanks to the Friends of Birch Bay State Park, this project did not stall,” said Stacey McDaniel, BP Refinery Manager. 

According to speakers at the event, it took relentless efforts to ensure that the project was seen to fruition. “It seemed that there were some times when this rock just wouldn’t move,” said Scott Walker, president of the Friends of Birch Bay State Park. “I’ve met a lot of stubborn women in my life, but when you get Kathy Berg, Doralee Booth and Carol Sandvig in a room, you can’t stop them.” 

Construction for the center’s log cabin  is expected to start in late September and be completed by spring or summer 2014. “We hope to have it all sealed in by late November and ready for winter,” said Ted Morris, area manager for Birch Bay State Park. 

“We’ll work it over the winter and hopefully have it usable by this time next year,” he said. 

The project was envisioned by the  Friends of Birch Bay State Park and is being paid for with private donations from the community.

The largest donations came from BP Cherry Point Refinery and Alcoa Intel Works, which donated $105,000 and $25,000 respectively.

From l., Kathy Berg, Ted Morris, Stacey McDaniel, Scott Walker and Darrell Hillaire don hard hats and use their golden shovels to break ground as part of the ceremonial proceedings. “I didn’t know if I would ever see this day come,” Berg said.

Close to 100 people gathered at the day-use area in Birch Bay State Park to celebrate the long-awaited groundbreaking of the BP Heron Enviromental Center on April 20.

The Ross family (from l., Max, Mason, Marijka and Ken) admire the stuffed heron on display at the site. 

Mark Matzel, 4, of Custer, sees how he measures up against the blue heron. “He’s taller than me,” Matzel said.