I applaud your editorial that called for sparing the Shipley
Nature Center from budget cuts so that it can remain open.
The nature center is truly an invaluable educational and
recreational resource. Each year 40,000 visitors of all ages enjoy
the trails, habitats and wetland that provide a natural refuge from
suburban development. Countless school children, including my own,
take field trips to the nature center to learn about the plants,
wildlife and habitats in their natural setting.
In their column Natural Perspectives, professors Vic Leipzig and
Louann Murray talked about the nature center's popular naturalist,
"Ranger Dave" Winkler. He has been an enthusiastic presence for 26
years and thousands of children have delighted in learning from him
about the nature center's biota.
What is less known to the public is that over the years Winkler
has saved the city substantial amounts of money by using volunteers
to perform essential repair, maintenance and upkeep work. Winkler's
dedication and resourcefulness have kept the nature center viable
even when the city was unable to provide adequate funds. It would be
sad that such a dedicated individual would lose his job because of
A few years ago pine beetles destroyed the nature center's pine
trees while tamarisk and passion vine overtook many areas. The City's
Environmental Board recognized that the habitats destroyed by the
invasive pests and vegetation needed to be restored.
The board began working with the ranger Winkler, city staff,
council members and college professors on ways revitalize the nature
center and ensure its long-term viability. An outgrowth of the
board's efforts was the Friends of the Nature Center, which was
formed to seek community support and private financial assistance to
augment city funding. This group has done much over the past year to
help revitalize the nature center and is working hard to ensure its
continued operation. The efforts of the environmental board and the
Friends of the Shipley Nature Center will be for naught should the
nature center close.
I support our city officials' desire to be fiscally responsible
and to avoid deficits, yet budget decisions must not result in the
loss of assets like the nature center, which are important to our
high quality of life.
Very few cities have such an invaluable and irreplaceable resource
as the nature center. I believe
that reductions need to be found elsewhere in our city's budget so
that the Shipley Nature Center can remain as an educational and
recreational resource for our community.
* JOHN SCANDURA is a Huntington Beach resident. To contribute to
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