Work begins on River Fork Ranch interpretive center

The Nature Conservancy has begun work to transform an existing ranch home at the River Fork Ranch near Genoa in the Carson Valley into an interpretive center, scheduled to open in the spring of 2010.

"We are extremely excited to be underway in making the Whit Hall Interpretive Center a reality," says Duane Petite, Carson River Project Manager for The Nature Conservancy. "Giving people the opportunity to learn about and experience the work we're doing will strengthen the connection our community has to the Carson River."

The renovation work is being undertaken by Panattoni Construction and was designed by a team led by Cathexes of Reno. Once completed, the building will showcase sustainable living, feature energy-saving technology, act as a hub for a public trail system, and serve as an educational center for local students offering an opportunity to lean about the natural wonders of the Carson Valley.

In order to minimize the building's environmental impact, the project incorporates reusing as much of the existing building as possible, flooring made with recycled materials, solar panels, and passive geothermal technology.

The LEED-certified project is being funded entirely with private donations with major funding from the Carson Valley-based Fairweather Foundation.

"We have seen the difference that environmental education can make" says Joanne Hall about the decision by the Fairweather Foundation to get involved with the project. "Visitors to the Interpretive Center will be able to learn about what they're seeing and gain a little appreciation for this area. This is not just a dry desert - there's so much more going on."

The Center is located at The Nature Conservancy's roughly 800-acre River Fork Ranch. The ranch, acquired in 2000, is one of five locations along the river where the group is working to restore the Carson River and improve habitat. Located where the east and west forks of the Carson River come together, River Fork Ranch provides critical wetland and wet meadow habitat for wildlife, particularly nesting habitat for migratory song birds. In addition, River Fork Ranch is a working cattle ranch, dedicated to demonstrating sustainable agriculture practices that are compatible with habitat restoration and protection.

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