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Wetlands Park to open new center for visitors

The new Nature Center in the heart of Clark County’s largest park will open to the public with a dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The 45,000-square-foot-complex features an 8,335-square-foot exhibit gallery and an 85-seat auditorium in the heart of Wetlands Park, off Tropicana Avenue about a mile east of Boulder Highway.

The rustic park is a mile wide and seven miles long, taking in a stretch of the Las Vegas Wash from the east end of Flamingo Road to Lake Las Vegas.

The wash serves as the lone drainage outlet for the valley and carries the community’s treated sewer water downstream to Lake Mead.

For more than a decade, the multi-agency Las Vegas Wash Coordination Committee has overseen the construction of more than a dozen water-control structures to slow the flow of the wash and protect its banks from erosion.

The work has helped improve water quality at Lake Mead and bring back wetlands that thrived along the wash in the 1970s.

More than 200 species of birds and more than 70 species of mammals and reptiles have since been spotted within Wetlands Park. Coyotes, rabbits, bats, snakes, raccoons, beavers and the occasional bobcat also call the park home.

The new center sits at the southern edge of a 210-acre preserve filled with ponds, hiking trails and bike paths. Inside, the exhibit gallery tells the story of the man-made natural area with a host of hands-on, kid-friendly displays.

The county is seeking volunteers to help staff the Nature Center.

The $15 million facility was built using eco-friendly design and construction techniques. It was paid for mostly with proceeds from the sale of federal land in Clark County.

The complex at 7050 Wetlands Park Lane also includes a cafe, information center, classrooms, meeting space and administrative offices for the park’s small staff and volunteers.

The entire building stands on concrete stilts that lift it above the flood-prone property.

Once open, the center will operate from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week.

Admission will be free.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350.

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