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In The News…

River Center in Alturas makes Quite a Big Splash

May 8, 2003
Modoc County Record

The Grand Opening of the new River Center in Alturas, came as a wonderfully impressive surprise to those who had never seen the museum's interior. A throng of supporters, volunteers, agency staffers and curious members of the public showed up on May 1 to see first-hand, the completion of the project, three years in the making.

Waiting for the building's exterior sign which has yet to come, didn't stop the ribbon cutting and audible enthusiasm which flowed from the mouths of those seeing the center for its premiere. Among the colorful rooms and displays were such wonders as the delicate Fairy Shrimp, collected by Modoc Forest Fisheries Biologists Marty Yamagiwa and Neneekah Forrest from Goose Lake, for the Center's Aquaria room. Aquariums were donated by Alturas Elementary School.

The new center, now open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends by appointment, is located across from the Modoc County Office of Education at 136 Henderson St., Alturas, on the banks of the Pit River channel. Admission is free, but donations are welcomed. Student groups, locals and visitors all have access to the new River Center.

Paula Fields, Education Coordinator the River Center, welcomed everyone to the Modoc County Office of Education Conference Room, where she showed a slide presentation on how the process of the Center evolved in the 900 square foot building, across the street from MCOE.

All design and fabrication work was done locally, with the exception of the display panel printing in Reno. Graphic Designers John and Lin Howard, who relocated to Alturas from Santa Rosa a few years ago, worked their magic with Center exhibit designer Sophie Sheppard, and lighting designers Ed and Wendy Lutz.

"The final product is a center designed for people of all ages that encourages the wonder of discovery in the Pit River Watershed," said Fields.

Modoc Middle School Teacher and River Center volunteer Sally Clark arranged the Center's wildlife diorama and wrote a song which she performed on guitar with singers Donna Cooley and Patricia Bell of Alturas to an overflowing conference room crowd. Guests enjoyed cake before moving across the street for the ribbon cutting by Central Modoc Resource Conservation District Director Dick Mackey. Sheppard was on hand with artist John Howard, autographing Sheppard's Pit River Watershed poster that illustrates the diversity and beauty of the Watershed, while Modoc National Forest employees were giving away pine seedlings for guests to take home.

"There are many people deserving of a very special thank you for their generous contributions to the River Center," said Fields who started with thanking the State Water Resources Control Board and the Modoc National Forest for funding the development of the River Center and continued with a long list of local individuals and agencies.

Partners who assisted with the development, design and construction of the River Center include: Modoc County Office of Education, State Water Resources Control Board, Modoc National Forest, Devil's Garden Conservation Camp, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Pit River Watershed Alliance, Natural Resource Conservation Services, Bureau of Land Management, North Cal Neva Resource Conservation and Development, the Migratory Bird Festival committee and a host of members from the community-at-large. The Board of Directors for the Central Modoc Resource Conservation District and Valerie Coe were a driving force, Fields told The Record.

The River Center's mission is to showcase the Natural Resources in Modoc County by developing an appreciation for how a watershed affects and benefits the community. Professional displays and local information are included along with a children's section, displays of animals, plants, fish, birds and trees that inhabit the watershed.

Posters by Surprise Valley artist and River Center exhibit designer Sophie Sheppard, are available for $5 or autographed, $10, in addition to The River Center membership applications.

The River Center and Central Modoc RC&D staff includes Watershed Coordinator Cliff Harvey; Project Coordinator Jim Davis; Administrative Assistant Laura Shinn; Paula Fields, Environmental Education Coordinator hired by Central Modoc RC&D; part-time assistant coordinator Laura Van Acker whose position is supported by Title 3 funding and part-time intern and student Andrea Harris.

Check out what the new River Center has to offer. To schedule a weekend tour, please call (530) 233-5085.