Wild About Utah: The 25th anniversary of the Stokes Nature Center
In the fall of 1995, having already successfully envisioned and fostered the establishment of the Ogden Nature Center, and undaunted by multiple false-starts, Bridgerland Audubon Society Trustee and Education Chair Jack Greene launched a final successful round of appeals to establish a nature center in Logan Canyon. The first step of partnering with the First Presbyterian Church helped in securing a U.S. Forest Service conditional use permit to rehabilitate the disused Logan Canyon facility of the Cache Valley Council of Boy Scouts.
The second step of forming the founding board of trustees of the Logan Canyon Nature Center, with representatives from both Bridgerland Audubon and First Presbyterian, led to the election of Jack as president, and, importantly, to the writing of the business plan for an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Successive Bridgerland Audubon Society presidents Brigit Burke, Robert Schmidt and Bryan Dixon tackled the arduous task of raising over $100,000 in funds and soliciting over $55,000 in donated building supplies, They wrangled over 200 volunteers for over 5,000 hours of perilous and thoroughly unglamorous labor of blood, sweat and tears to transmogrify a dilapidated and vandalized 70-year-old American Legion building into a 20th century nature center.
A standout in this community effort is biologist Glen Gantz, who donated over 1,500 hours serving as the general contractor, coordinating the work and finding subcontractors. Local educator, writer and artist Kayo Robertson designed the logo featuring the American Dipper, Al Stokes’ favorite bird. Peggy Linn of the U.S. Forest Service was a key player, and fundraisers including Mae Coover, Terry Barnes, Wendy Gaddis and Jacqueline Henney, and generous donors including Sally Sears, Randy Wirth, Nate Hult, Campbell Scientific, Thompson Electric and Cache Valley Electric ensured success.
Two years later, on Nov. 1, 1997, the Logan Canyon Nature Center was dedicated to Bridgerland Audubon Society founders Allen and Alice Stokes, pillars of the local environmental conservation community. Al had been Aldo Leopold’s student and Alice had been Aldo’s personal secretary. It is fitting that the Stokes Nature Center embodies the Leopold Land Ethic of caring about people, land, and the ecological conscience which binds the two when connecting people to opportunity. Twenty-five years later, the mission of the Stokes Nature Center “To provide nature education and promote outdoor exploration of our natural world” is thriving. The vision is shining as “People of all ages appreciate and are stewards of our natural world,” and Al’s American Dippers are still dipping in the Logan River.
Twenty-five years later, Jack Greene still serves as a docent and leads bird walks and nature programs, and the community continues to support this beacon for connecting people to nature through the study of the ecology of the land. Here’s looking forward to the next quarter century of strengthening community bonds through collaborations for nature exploration and appreciation!
Sound Credit: Anderson, Howe and Wakeman and Kevin Colver