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Groundbreaking Sunday for Soaring Eagle Wetland

BELLEFONTE — Groundbreaking on the Soaring Eagle Wetland, one of the Wildlife for Everyone Foundation’s two Centre County wetlands to be designed with accessibility features, will take place on Sunday, Oct. 18.

This action demonstrates the Foundation’s commitment to make nature accessible for all individuals regardless of physical limitation. “Natural areas provide a serene space to detach from emotionally-charged lives and focus on the beauty of nature,” says Russ Schleiden, chairman of the WFEF Board. “The addition of accessibility features will allow persons with physical limitation the opportunity to engage in passive recreational activities, connect with nature and experience the restorative benefits it offers,” adds Schleiden. The symbolic groundbreaking gesture in the Soaring Eagle Wetland will set in motion the construction of the two-phase project.

— Phase one is a bird viewing area named for contributions of Galen and Nancy Dreibelbis.

The first phase of construction will allow exploration of the more remote wetland located on the west side of old route 220. Formerly known as the Julian Wetland, the newly named Galen and Nancy Dreibelbis Viewing Area pays tribute to long-time Foundation supporters, Galen and Nancy Dreibelbis and will permit access to a “wilder” wetland that showcases over 190 species of resident and migratory birds. “The Galen and Nancy Dreibelbis Viewing Area provides important stopover habitat and is a great place for birders to hear and see some of the uncommon birds that move through Pennsylvania,” states Margaret Brittingham, Board member, leading ornithologist and Professor of Wildlife Resources, Penn State University. The projected cost for the Galen and Nancy Dreibelbis Viewing Area is $169,000 and will include accessible blinds, linear trails and ADA-compliant parking. Completion is expected in time for spring migration.

— Phase two is the Soaring Eagle Wetland.

Construction of the Soaring Eagle Wetland, ¢ mile down the road, will follow with the installation of an accessible trail and fishing platform over Bald Eagle Creek, ADA-compliant observation blinds, pavilion, restroom, parking lot and educational signage. Fully accessible from parking lot to the Bald Eagle Creek, the projected cost of the Soaring Eagle Wetland is approximately $1.2 million. Two-$250,000 grants were awarded for this project by the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The remaining cost will be funded by private contributions. Bid requests will be publicized early next year and construction is expected to begin in spring 2021. Persons interested in making a contribution may call the office at 814-238-8138 or visit the website — www.wildlifeforeveryone.org.

The Wildlife for Everyone Foundation was established in 2004 to provide all wildlife enthusiasts with a way to show their commitment through much-needed financial support for wildlife conservation efforts and education. Since its inception, the Foundation has supported projects including wildlife and wetland habitat improvements, creek and lake restorations, the Seedlings for Schools and Pollinator Garden programs and student educational opportunities. A fully accessible, ADA-compliant wetlands area that will provide residents of central Pennsylvania with an outdoor learning space and nature observatory is planned for 2021. The Foundation’s mission connects all wildlife and nature enthusiasts to the great outdoors, including birders, hunters, anglers, students and everyone with an appreciation for nature’s treasures. For more information, visit www.wildlifeforeveryone.org.

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