Southwest Wildlife Foundation Director of Development Nicole Shafer said the nature park has been in the works since 2000.
Southwest Wildlife Foundation CEO and co-founders Martin and Susan Tyner have worked wildlife rescues out of their home since 1997 and when some board members suggested having a home-based facility Tyner thought about a nature park, Shafer said.
Martin Tyner is also a federally licensed falconer, eagle falconer, wildlife rehabilitator, wildlife propagator, and wildlife and environmental educator. He has been presenting and sharing his work for over forty years with schools and has written his book, “Healer of Angels.”
The property which was placed for the Cedar City Nature Park was previously owned by Utah Power until the company was sold to Scottish Power.Tyner went into negotiations on the property, Shafer said.
“He was able to get (Scottish Power) to come talk to him,” she said. “They came down and saw what he had to say and they weren’t really interested.”
She said it wasn’t until he showed them his golden eagle, Bud, that they agreed.
“Golden eagles are very precious to the people in Scotland,” Shafer said. “Golden eagles are the world’s eagle . . . They had been trying to get the eagles back into Scotland so (Scottish Power) was excited and gave the property because they met the eagle.”
The property is just a few miles up Cedar Canyon off Highway 14 next to the pedestrian bridge. It includes 22.6 acres, which will be used as an outdoor classroom for many local schools and facilities will be built to accommodate wildlife rescue.
“It’s perfect with the Colorado Plateau and Great Basin and the various ecosystems to explore,” Shafer. “it’s right in Cedar City so no one really has to travel far to get to it.”
Susan Tyner has been the help of grant work for the different parts of the project, Shafer said.
“In 2012, over 320 volunteer hours, a Cedar City RAP tax donation of $15,500, a $10,000 George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation grant, and many other donations were gathered to build and install a 96′ long pedestrian bridge crossing Coal Creek connecting the Cedar Canyon Nature Park trailhead to the existing trail system,” according to www.gowildlife.org.
Rocky Mountain Power and Recreational Trails Program has also donated, Shafer said.
“We have some really great people supporting the project.”
On Dec. 7, ground was broken for an Information Destination building. Shafer said the point of the building is mainly a restroom facility geared especially for elementary school and university student use when they use the nature park as an outdoor classroom.
“There will also be a utility room on the back with education kits to use in partnership with the schools,” she said. “There will also be a porch area for students to gather. It will include a drinking fountain and information panels will also be displayed around the building.”
Information will be displayed regarding wildlife, the park, native animals, plants, rock formations and general information about the Cedar City area, she said. The building will be complete in Spring or Summer 2017.
With the help of volunteer committees, retired NASA Engineer Roy Tryon and Choice Builders General Contactor Roger Thomas, the next stage of the project, a visitor’s center, is in the planning stages, Shafer said.
“Once it is built then the wildlife rehabilitation area will be available at the property,” she said. “(Any animals) that cannot be released can be used for education purposes and have a place to live at the property.”
In the past year, Shafer said, the organization has come a long way with the nature park projec and “we have really come a long way really fast.”
“ We got a new website up and running, brochures designed, events at the property,” she said. “We are really moving forward and am excited about how things are going.”
Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson said she never expected one of her mayoral duties to be attending a ground breaking of some restrooms, but she said she is grateful for the nature park that will be a great asset to the community.
“Martin Tyner has been wanting to do it for so long,” Wilson said. “ To learn about animals and nature in general will make this community even better.”
For more information, check out www.gowildlife.org.