Visitors get a look at the Dungeness River Nature Center’s 3-D Dungeness River watershed table relief map. The center hosts open houses this week. (John Gussman/Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe)

Visitors get a look at the Dungeness River Nature Center’s 3-D Dungeness River watershed table relief map. The center hosts open houses this week. (John Gussman/Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe)

Open house days set at Dungeness River Nature Center

Hurricane Coffee Co. opens second location at center

SEQUIM — The public is invited to explore the nearly completed 5,900-square-foot expansion and remodel of the Dungeness River Nature Center during two days of open houses beginning Wednesday.

Volunteers will greet visitors at 1943 W. Hendrickson Road in Sequim from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and answer questions about the new facility.

It will be the first glimpse for most of the newly installed interpretive exhibits.

The center’s new features include the Salmon Room, an Introduction/Pelagic Bird Exhibit and a Dungeness River 3-D Watershed Relief Map, which features five murals, integration of the expansive wildlife specimens, interpretive panels, photos, tribal artifacts and related equipment that showcases the entire watershed from snowfields to saltwater.

The $5.4 million upgrade also provided expanded meeting spaces, a gift shop, coffee shop, rain garden, new entry road and parking lot.

“Don’t miss this opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes tour of what the new center has to offer for educational opportunities, rental options, and just viewing the wonder of the building’s design, which mimics the historic, 1915 railroad bridge,” said Annette Hanson, board president.

The new gift and coffee shops will be open, featuring apparel with the new center logo and educational books, games and toys.

Among the shops will be the Hurricane Coffee at the River. Owner Teresa Gordon was scheduled to have a soft opening for Hurricane Coffee Company’s new second location at the Dungeness River Nature Center today.

The first week, Hurricane Coffee at the River will open through Sunday, and the following week it will operate from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

It also plans to be open during such special events as the Summer Nature Mart, which will feature seasonal and holiday items for sale made by River Center handcrafters from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“As soon as we are staffed appropriately and have our systems set up, we will be open seven days a week,” manager Bethany Hiday said.

The new, polished river center is the culmination of more than four decades of efforts.

In 1984 —with the help of local artists — Annette and Mark Hanson constructed the Sequim Natural History Museum, an entire model watershed from mountain to sea, filled with specimens of the flora and fauna in floor-to-ceiling dioramas.

In the early 1990s, when the school reclaimed the space, the museum went into storage. However, community members worked together to purchase the historic Railroad Bridge and a half-mile right-of-way as Railroad Bridge Park, the first piece of the Olympic Discovery Trail in Clallam County.

When the project’s government sponsorship fell through, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe assumed responsibility and ownership of the land and buildings, expanding the park by 10 acres on the east side of the river.

The Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society and National Audubon Society joined the partnership in 1997.

Through the 2018 “Inspire Wonder” capital campaign, large contributions came from partners, philanthropic organizations and community donations. However, nature center advocates have raised about 90 percent of that final price tag, center Director Powell Jones has said.

When visitors arrive, they will “know they are in for a surprise and a destination,” said W. Ron Allen, tribal chairman for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, during a celebration to thank donors last month.

Home to numerous outdoor and educational activities, the center will “help people understand why nature is so important,” Allen said.

Since its opening in 2001, people have visited the Dungeness River Audubon Center for classes, festivals, lectures, field trips and summer camps.

For more about the center, see dungenessrivercenter.org.

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