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Finally, a new center of attention

March 28, 2001

Tim Willert and Karen S. Kim

HILLSIDE DISTRICT -- After years of delays, the Stough Canyon Nature

Center has finally opened its doors.

Hundreds of people attended a Saturday morning ribbon-cutting ceremony

in the canyon of the Verdugo Mountains north of the De Bell Municipal

Golf course. Guests were treated to live animal presentations and nature

hikes.

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"We had a tremendous response," said Carol Stiver Mercado, the

center's recreation program coordinator. "There was a lot of positive

feedback; people really wanted to utilize the center and the hiking

trails.

"We want to introduce people [to the center] who might not normally

come up here to experience the Verdugo Mountains," Mercado said.

"Hopefully, they will learn more about wildlife, native plants and the

natural habitat."

An additional 200 to 300 guests visited the center on Sunday and were

treated to Native American story telling by members of the Chumash tribe.

Saturday's opening marked the culmination of two years of

construction, which was delayed several times because of problems with

contractors and the need to import more soil than expected, officials

said.

The 4,000-square-foot center includes two classrooms, an amphitheater,

a small library and 1,200 square feet of exhibit space.

Visitors can take part in an interactive exhibit on the local habitat,

place their hands on a "touch table" of animal skulls and feathers or

research information on native plants, reptiles, mammals, insects and

birds.

Hikers also can make their way to Tujunga Canyon and La Tuna Canyon

from the center, which offers a path to the local trail system, including

the Rim of the Valley trail.

The $2.4-million center was funded from several sources, including

Burbank's general fund and separate Proposition A ballot measures

approved by Los Angeles County voters in 1992 and 1996.

The center is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9

a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m Sunday. It is closed Monday.

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