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A ‘new’ nature center

Officials celebrate the renovation of one the valley’s biggest landmarks

Posted: June 19, 2009 8:43 p.m.
Updated: June 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.

County Supervisor Michael Antonovich cuts the ribbon on the renovated Placerita Nature Center on Friday morning. The renovation cost $2.1 million and took about 18 months.

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As warm sunlight blanketed Placerita Canyon on Friday morning, county officials stood in the shade of an oak tree and cut the ribbon on the renovated nature center.

Dedicated in 1971, the nature center was closed for about 18 months for a $2.1 million eco-friendly overhaul. During that period, rangers worked out of a portable office trailer.

“This is a facility that’s for today and tomorrow,” county Supervisor Mike Antonovich said to a crowd of about 100 people.
Placerita Canyon Natural Area is a state park, but is managed by Los Angeles County’s parks and recreation department.

The concept of environmental sustainablity was the focus of the renovation.

“One of the things that makes structures sustainable are the people who use them,” said architect Gwynne Pugh, of Pugh and Scarp
Architecture, which designed the renovation. “(The nature center) is a learning tool for the community.”

“Green” is the theme for the 5,500-square-foot nature center.

Appliances are energy-efficient, the building is insulated with shredded newspapers and magazines and the staff is able to mulch and compost on location.

Offices feature skylights, which reduce the amount of power used, and rooms outfitted with automatic lights.

The exterior siding of the building was replaced with a fire-resistant fiber cement, said Russ Guiney, director of the county Department of Parks and Recreation.

He said the “new” nature center is an example of how to integrate green technology with existing structures.

Frank Hoffman, director of the nature center, is hoping the revamped facility can garner a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, a government-issued designation for “green” buildings.

Inside, the center’s museum is dotted with preserved and mounted animals and nature exhibits, and the gift shop has been expanded.

The nature center is hosting an open house today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring animal presentations, exhibits and tours.

Placerita Canyon Natural Area includes about 350 acres and 12 miles of hiking trails.

The nature center is located at 19152 Placerita Canyon Rd., about two miles east of Highway 14. For more information visit



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