(CITY OF PUEBLO) – The Nature and Wildlife Discovery Center, a non-profit dedicated to “Promot[ing] environmental stewardship and population health through nature education, wildlife rehabilitation, and outdoor recreation,” is in trouble of shutting down.
“If we continue on the trajectory we’re on right now, we can stay open for about a month,” stated Interim Executive Director Patty Kester.
The danger primarily comes from a lack of resources.
“There have been infrastructure costs over decades that have been postponed, because the funding hasn’t been there,” Kester continued.
“We do have two maintenance people on staff, but there are limits to what they can do.”
The laundry list of repairs range from continuing maintenance for aging vehicles to repairing buildings, irrigation and drainage issues, potholes, trails, and other structures.
“We are at a point right now, where it’s about to get a lot worse, but we don’t have the funding to address it,” said Kester.
In addition, the NWDC faces:
- Personnel costs
- Insurance costs
- Increasing scarcity of grant dollars
Also, the organization says they are now dealing with the issue of an encroaching homeless population, “We know that without our presence, it would become a problem here,” Kester went on.
On top of all that, the merger that in January brought together the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo with the Mountain Park Environmental Center to create what is now the Nature and Wildlife Discovery Center is not currently paying expected dividends.
“I think in the long term, it will. However, in the short term it cost [us] to merge.”
But short term costs aside, staff is saying the merger was a good move, “Absolutely, the educational benefits of having two different ecosystems for people to visit and learn from and compare to one another, is wonderful.”
So how to solve the issue?
Already the the NWDC has gone through some reorganization, cutting some staff and slashing certain spending.
Supporters and members have already started to pitch in and the non-profit has reached out to various local groups for support and their stakeholders for advice; however that, even in addition to the annual $185,000 the city allocates towards the organization, and is proving to not be enough.
So now, the NWDC is asking the city for emergency funding as well as an increase to annual funding for at least two years.
“We’re [also] asking them to bring their expertise to the table to help us solve the problem,” stated Kester.
In addition, the organization is turning towards the community of Pueblo.
“We’re not just asking for monetary donations, we want people to have a hand in one of pueblo’s gems,” said Hollyn Stephens, the director of business operations for the NWDC.
“It’s so important for the health of the community and the health of the individuals who use it, we don’t want to lose it,” finished Kester.
To learn more regarding the NWDC, including the best ways to volunteer or to donate, you can visit their website HERE. You can also call their main line at 719-485-4444.