Thursday, April 29, 2010

WCC Receives $300K Grant for New Education Center from NY State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation!

Plans for the Wolf Conservation Center’s move to the northeast corner adjacent to the 383-acre Leon Levy Preserve have just received a major boost and vote of approval from Parks Commissioner Carol Ash and the State’s Environmental Protection Fund: The WCC is one of only three organizations in the Hudson Valley region to receive an Acquisition and Development Grant from the NYSOPRHP!

In the letter awarding the grant, Commissioner Ash cited Governor David A. Paterson's commitment “to making smart investments in the environment, in historic preservation, and in community quality of life.” In keeping with that commitment, the state has made more than $20.8 million of grant funds available for distribution this year, and, according to the letter, the competition for this year's grant funding was “extremely keen.”

“It is immensely gratifying to receive this grant and acknowlegement, and to be in the company of amazing environmental institutions like Teatown and the Mohonk Preserve (the other two grant recipients in the region) – they have been around for over 40 years, and we are only 10 years old!” said WCC Executive Director, Deborah Heineman.

Founded in 1999, the WCC has a dual mission:
1. To educate people about wolves, their precarious recovery since near extinction at the beginning of the 20th Century, and their role as a top predator crucial to the maintenance of a healthy, balanced ecosystem.
2. To actively shelter and breed endangered Mexican gray wolves and red wolves as part of the national SSP (Species Survival Plan) program administered by U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

“We are very pleased with the strides we have made in our first decade,” explains Heineman, “and have had an impact on literally tens of thousands of people throughout the Northeast with our experiential education programs. We have also accomplished our dreams for our SSP program: We had our first litter of endangered wolves on Earth Day two years ago and currently have three breeding pairs that we hope will have pups. But there is NO room for further growth at our present site, and when a group of local supporters (Skykay Partners, LLC) approached us with the idea of buying and donating the land and buildings adjacent to the Levy Preserve as a new Education Center we were thrilled.”

Plans unveiled by Tom Caspar, attorney for Skykay Partners, LLC, and Heineman at a Lewisboro Town Board meeting earlier this month showed that the 1850s Carriage House would be restored and converted with green technology for adaptive reuse as the WCC's Education Center, with a large classroom, offices for staff, an exhibition space, and a store, and another of the three houses on the property will be used by the Friends of the Levy Preserve and the Town for Parks and Recreation programs.

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