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Nature Center offers window on Logan Canyon

April 3rd, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life

Story and photos by Cassidee Cline

LOGAN CANYON—The crunching of snow could be heard miles up Logan Canyon as adults and kids waddled through the woods in snowshoes like penguins with oversized feet. The sun beamed brightly as the group followed in a crooked line over the already melting snow.

Getting the family together for a day of snowshoeing is one activity Stokes Nature Center provides to people in Cache Valley.

“The highlights are the hot cocoa and the river and the tracks,” Cache Valley resident Adrea Wheaton said.

Wheaton participated in the program with her husband Joe and her two boys. Joe Wheaton watched as Cadel, 4, and his brother Luke, 2, pretended to catch hammerhead sharks and sea horses in the river.

Adrea Wheaton said had they tried snowshoeing earlier in the year, but it didn’t work out so well. This time, the Wheatons dragged the boys in a bright red sled.

Volunteer Sadie Enright led the group, pointing out deer tracks in the snow.

The Stokes Nature Center was created and dedicated in 1997, Enright said, although volunteers had worked before that on nature programs in the Canyon.

“The main goal is to provide a nature experience for anybody that either lives in Cache Valley or visits Cache Valley,” Enright said. “We try to cover all ages.”

She said the Stokes Center programs help raise awareness of the out-of-doors. “We try to just bring in a lot of the community out into nature,” she said.

Inside the center sits a library full of books for all ages about the great outdoors. The building—a former summer cabin about a quarter-mile inside the mouth of the canyon—also houses animals, including a turtle, a couple of snakes and a tarantula, which visitors may handle and feed. The center is very hands-on, Enright said.

“You are encouraged when you go in to touch things and look at things.”

She said the center also has an area for fossils, animal excrement and bird watching. Enright said the center encourages visitors at any time, during a program or whenever the center is open.

The Stokes Nature Center is staffed mostly by volunteers, and tries to offer at least two programs a month. Enright said there are a lot of people who love the community and want to help.

Upcoming Stokes Center programs include music for adults and kids, wilderness first aid and a virtual fossil dig.

The hardest part about putting a program together, Enright said, is to know what people want. “It’s great to get feedback because we are always struggling to try provide the most appealing programs for the community,” she said.

Marlene Skinner saw a recent Stokes Center program advertised in the newspaper and brought her two grandkids.

“I think it’s just a fun program especially for the kids,” she said, as 2-year-old Emilee piled up snow with a shovel to make a couch. “It gives the kids a chance to get out and learn about nature.”

Wheaton says the center offers a needed vehicle to help parents and kids get off the couch. “I found that it is surprisingly hard to get people outside,” she said. “It’s such a beautiful area and nobody comes up the canyon. That’s kind of crazy.”

Wheaton said she is looking forward to a bird program later in the year. “I think it’s good that they have some awareness and get families up and outdoors,” she said.

For Enright, the Stokes Nature Center helps give Logan residents and visitors a sense of place. “This is where we live,” she said. “It’s beautiful, so take advantage and get out in it, because it’s here.”

The Stokes Nature Center was named in honor of the late Allen and Alice Stokes and is located near the mouth of Logan Canyon. Plans are in the works for a new facility with more parking and access to trails.

TP

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