New Digs at Blackwater by Dick Cooper
“We hope to be moved into the Visitor Center by the first of the year,” says Ray Paretta, Blackwater’s Visitor Services Manager. “The new center w ill have a multipurpose room that can hold up to 150 for meetings. It will have expanded exhibition space, as well as the bookstore and gift shop that’s run by our non-profit partner, Friends of Blackwater.” The center also has a new geothermal heating and cooling system and skylights to cut back on the carbon footprint. Solar tubes will carry sunlight to darker parts of the building. “When you walk into a room, you think the lights are on,” Paretta says. The work on the ponds, called
The residents of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge seem oblivious to all of the remodeling work that has been going on over the last few years. Eagles continue to soar, herons and egrets constantly stalk the water’s edge in search of the next meal, and turtles by the dozens doze in the sun, their necks stretched out to maximize the warmth. Just over the banks and behind the berms, workers are closing in on the final touches to the Refuge’s renovated Visitor Center. Earthmoving equipment is being loaded up on trailers after getting the vast ponds ready for the thousands of incoming geese, ducks, swans and other waterfowl who spend their winters in Blackwater.
The Visitor Center at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is undergoing some much-needed renovations. 27
November 2013 Tidewater Times