Yolo County discusses plans for new Cache Creek Nature Preserve visitor center – Daily Democrat
Yolo County held a meeting this week to discuss design plans for a new visitor center and trail expansion at Cache Creek Nature Preserve.
In April 2000, the Cache Creek Conservancy, located off County Road 20 in Woodland, undertook one of its first restoration projects in the form of the Cache Creek Nature Preserve. The buildings used in the reserve are now over two decades old.
In conjunction with architectural and engineering firm NORR Associates, the county and reserve have been working for two years on the design of a new visitor center that will include event and exhibit space, interactive exhibits and areas showcasing local Native American heritage.
“The Nature Preserve is one of the key properties and is envisioned as a primary hub providing public access to several miles of trails that will extend to nearby boardwalk properties,” said Casey Liebler, Yolo County Natural Resources Program Coordinator.
The virtual meeting – held on Monday evening – allowed for comments and input from the public on what amenities and features they would like to see included in the visitor center to improve recreation and education opportunities.
Mike Novak, principal architect of NORR, explained that the visitor center will include a new plaza with indigenous and culturally significant plantings that are essential for educational opportunities. Novak said it was important for the design team to provide accessibility while respecting the surrounding nature.
“One of the main things we wanted to do is not dominate the existing oak forest, but we want to provide better access to the different amenities that we have,” Novak explained. “It’s a bit of a balance between preserving the trees and allowing someone in a wheelchair or a walker to be able to sit on a picnic bench under one of those oak trees and get some take advantage.”
The new visitor center will be designed to be solar control, fire resistant and have a lifespan of 50 to 100 years, Novak said. It will also include a classroom for educational purposes and two separate exhibition areas.
“One very important thing we learned in the schematic design is that there needs to be a separation of the site between the natural exposures and the cultural exposures,” Novak explained. “We intend to have stuffed animals on the natural side for these multi-dimensional presentations for educational purposes. limit natural exposures and we do not limit cultural exposures.
Several community members highlighted the need for shade, especially during the hot summer months. Public commentators also provided ideas on how to attract native songbirds and stressed the importance of showcasing local plant species and not disturbing plants as much as possible with too much concrete.
Cache Creek Conservancy board member Bruce Christensen suggested including bird feeders, moving water features or a bird blind.
“There’s a multitude of wonderful birds out there at the creek,” Christensen said. “It would be nice to attract the birds and make it a little more likely for some of those who might otherwise be chance sightings a little easier to see and educate the public.”
The county is seeking funding from California State Parks to help build the projects in the form of two grant applications that are due in November.
Community members who were unable to attend the virtual meeting can still provide feedback on the project by completing the online survey found at Cache Creek Conservancy website.