"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
"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
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
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
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.