SPRINGDALE (KFSM) -- The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is breaking ground on a new nature center in Springdale.
The construction on the $18 million facility will focus on natural elements and ecosystems in the northwest region of the state, becoming the fifth such facility in Arkansas.
"We built the very first one years ago in Pine Bluff," said Eric Maynard, assistant chief of education at AGFC. "We didn't really know much about nature centers, so we got a lot more experience now and this is going to be one of the best facilities you've ever seen."
The facility will be on 61 acres along Spring Creek, near the intersection of Interstate 49 and Wagon Wheel Road.
The land for the facility was donated by the City of Springdale, and the construction is estimated to take about three years.
“We’ve been fortunate that Mrs. Johnelle Hunt will contribute $5 million to the project, and we’ll use that money as a foundation to raise funds for this worthy project,” Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation president Deke Whitbeck said. “We’re especially grateful to the Hunt family and Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse for the generosity as we take the next step forward in this campaign."
The Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation will lead a fundraising campaign to help offset costs of the construction.
The facility will include an educational building, indoor and outdoor classrooms, education pavilions, traditional and 3-D archery ranges, watchable-wildlife walking trails, wildlife habitat areas, a creek boardwalk and overlook, native plant gardens, wildlife-viewing blinds, and many other conservation education and outdoor recreation amenities.
"It's all about kids and the next generation," said Keith Stephens, communications chief for AGFC. "It's about Arkansas all of its natural resources... hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, canoeing. All those things. We want to tell them the story of how Arkansas got to be so popular."