The First Wild Arrival at the New Great Valley Outdoor Nature Lab
The Great Valley Museum's Outdoor Nature Lab is reaching the final stages of completion! The area includes a native vegetation of the Great Valley, characteristic rocks of the valley and Sierra Nevada foothills, a mock paleontology dig, vernal pool, and a greenhouse. The rocks have been in place for several months, and now the vegetation is in, and some of the trees have grown leaves. And that means our outdoor lab is starting to attract wildlife. I saw my first official species today when an American Robin landed in one of the newly planted trees.
The lab does of course still looks somewhat barren, given that the grasses and shrubs have yet to start spreading, and the trees are still very small. In a couple of years, the lab will be an incredibly attractive place to learn about the fascinating natural history of our valley.
For we "older" faculty, this has been a long wait. The idea for an outdoor lab had its beginnings three decades ago, and we had some "near-misses" when funding was thought to be in place, but plans continued to fall through. But then Measure E was passed by our community, and the outdoor lab barely survived the budget process, being the last, or nearly last project to be approved by the powers-that-be. And now it is almost done!
The lab will continue to be improved as the plants mature, and as interpretive signs are developed and installed. We will even have an "almost" true scale dinosaur by the mock paleontology dig site. Our county was the site of the first ever dinosaur discovery in California. It's about time that our residents became aware of this awesome fact!
And being a microcosm of our valley environment, I'm hoping to see lots more creatures making the outdoor nature lab their home!