Refuge celebrates new visitor center

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

BASOM – Leaders of the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge have brought some of the creatures and habitat of the refuge inside for visitors to experience as part of a $4.5 million upgrade to its headquarters and visitor center.

Tanya Preisch, an administrative assistant for the refuge and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of Fisheries, holds a racoon pelt that is part of a new visitor center with many wildlife exhibits.

The entrance of the visitor center includes flocks of birds, suspended high near the ceiling. The birds have a reflective material, giving off changing colors.

Refuge leaders celebrated the new center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday. Today the grand opening celebration continues with demonstrations of live birds of prey from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and other games and crafts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the refuge on Casey Road.

The exhibits mimic some of the habitat in the refuge. The new headquarters and visitor center gutted and upgraded the previous building and added 5,000 square feet of space.

The project was driven by the co-location of the refuge staff with employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of Fisheries. The 18 to 20 employees from Fisheries moved from East Amherst to work out of the refuge.

This exhibit shows a muskrat in its marshy habitat.

This display notes that Native Americans were once prominent at the refuge, a 10,808-acre site in the towns of Shelby and Alabama.

A large fish tank highlights fish in the Great Lakes.