2009-06-27 / Outdoors

Funds still needed, but work on Elk Center continues

Heavy construction has begun, even as fund-raising continues, for the Elk Country Visitor Center, a partnership project of the state and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The center is designed be the largest elk watching and conservation education facility in the eastern U.S. The 8,420 square-foot building and 245 acres on Winslow Hill in Benezette Township, Elk County, will include educational exhibits, trails, story theater, wildlife viewing blinds, meeting rooms and display areas.

Construction began in late May. Total cost for completing and opening the center is $12.4 million. Under the partnership agreement, the state is paying for design and construction, while the Elk Foundation is raising money for exhibits and operation.

"We're still working with donors who are interested in helping fulfi ll this commitment," said Rawley Cogan, who is directing fund-raising efforts for the Elk Foundation.

RMEF has raised $10.1 million and is working to secure the final $2.3 million. Major financial supporters to date include the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Dominion Foundation, Thoresen Foundation, Safari Club International, Eastern Chapter Foundation for North American Wild Sheep and many individuals.

The building will include "green" features such as rainwater collection and reuse, night-sky friendly light fixtures, use of locally available materials and sustainably harvested timber, and use of low emitting paints, adhesives and carpets.

Construction completion is projected for spring 2010.

Additional information is available at a websitem rmef.org, or by calling 1-800-CALLELK.

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