Matching $20K grant available for outdoor shelter at Audubon Trails Nature Center

Lori Amos
The Rolla Daily News

The Ozark Rivers Audubon Chapter and Audubon Trails Nature Center announced a $20,000 matching grant to raise additional funds needed to build an outdoor meeting, classroom and picnic shelter at Audubon Trails Nature Center.

According to Ozarks Rivers Audubon chapter officer, Louise Wilkinson, the structure will provide a sheltered area for meetings, educational presentations, tour gatherings and other community services. 

It will be a 20 by 44 foot, pre-engineered pavilion with steel posts, wood laminated beams and metal roofing. The chapter will build the structure in the grassland adjacent to the parking area, and a concrete walk will connect the shelter to the American with Disabilities Act accessible trail.

According to Wilkinson, the additional design modifications will help it blend in with the nature center's natural surroundings.

The nature center, located off Interstate 44 and White Columns Drive at 550 Meriweather Court is open to the public for free from dawn to dusk, offering residents over four miles of hiking trails covering an 11-acre remnant prairie, riparian area, savanna, dolomite glade, grasslands, open oak-hickory woodlands and century-old shortleaf pines.

There is a spring-fed creek, a tree identification trail, a pollinator garden with a mister fountain, bluebird trail, picnic area and an educational trailhead kiosk.

Benches are scattered along the trails and a quarter-mile loop trail is ADA accessible.

There are also 11 water flow monitoring wells installed in collaboration with the Missouri University of Science and Technology for student education in hydrology, geologic and geophysical engineering.

According to Wilkinson, the nature center was also the inspiration for the Great Missouri Birding Trail and is a migrant hotspot.

The matching grant period will last one month, ending June 15.

The Ozark Rivers Audubon Chapter owns the Audubon Trails Nature Center after acquiring it nearly 30 years ago to restore the native habitat while supporting wildlife and plant biodiversity.

The chapter’s mailing address is Ozarks Rivers Audubon Shelter Fundraiser, P.O Box 429, Rolla, MO 65402. Ozark Rivers Audubon Chapter is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation and will provide tax receipts.