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Mercer Slough gets new center
Expanded facility offers hands-on wetland experience
Ten years in the making, the first phase of the newly expanded Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center in Bellevue is complete. The public got a first look at the facility Saturday during a grand opening celebration.
The center, located at 1625 118th Ave. S.E., sits on the edge of the 320-acre Mercer Slough Nature Park, a wetland that is home to hundreds of diverse plants and animals.
During the day-long celebration, the Pacific Science Center and the city of Bellevue hosted free activities including environmental workshops, tours with park rangers, water creature exploration in the ponds, on-site plantings, facility tours and hikes with park rangers.
Over the past 15 years, the Pacific Science Center and Bellevue have offered classes at Mercer Slough in the Sullivan House. While a total of 8,000 students have participated, many students and children were placed on month-long waiting lists to get into the centers’ programs. Once complete, the new center will be able to accommodate as many as 40,000 school children, teachers and families each year.
“Five times as many kids from throughout the region will be able to stand here and look at the spectacular view and experience nature in the middle of one of the most densely populated areas of the West Coast,” King County Councilman Dow Constantine said. “It’s something to be proud of.”
The new education center includes the remodeled Sullivan House, a new classroom, wet lab, a tree house, community building and a visitor center. Visitors will have the opportunity to observe the slough habitat and learn through a hands-on wetland experience.
The center was designed by Jones & Jones, Architects and Landscape Architects and has earned a King County “Excellence in Building Green Award.” The center was built using environmentally friendly construction materials and methods including “green” roofs that collect rainwater into a gentle runoff for the surrounding native plants.
Puget Sound Energy played a significant role in the fundraising efforts for the expansion project. Additional funds will be needed to cover the cost of the second phase of the expansion, an effort that will be spearheaded by project co-chairs, Jerry Henry of PSE and Jim Ellis, one of the region’s most prominent community members.
The Pacific Science Center and the city will provide science-based education programs, understanding and appreciation for stewardship of the natural world through environmental interpretive programs for adults and families.
The city will maintain the property.
The new MSEEC will be open to kids of all ages including school groups, families, and camp programs through Pacific Science Center.
“With the new center there is now an expanded opportunity for kids of all ages to get a feel for the natural world right in the middle of a big city,” said Bryce Seidl, president and CEO for Pacific Science Center.
Lindsay Larin can be reached at email@example.com or at 425-453-4602.