Parks & Recreation: Nature Preserve
The initial phase of the Clark County Wetlands Park is set to take shape in a 100-acre area known as The Nature Preserve. It is located at the west end of the Wetlands Park. This interpretive park will let visitors explore the many facets of a dynamic wash environment that has formed as a result of water runoff from the Las Vegas Valley.
The Nature Preserve is the first step in implementing a larger plan for the Clark County Wetlands Park, which will enhance wetlands habitat, restore the larger wetlands environment, and provide recreation and educational opportunities for the Las Vegas area.
- Public access: parking for 90 cars, a 2.4-mile scenic drive, and trail roads. There are no limited-access areas.
- A Visitor's/Education Center, approximately 35,000 square feet of gathering, exhibits, classrooms, and office facilities.
- Ponds behind specified dams (for wildlife and plant habitat).
- Habitat enhancement of 210 acres (re-vegetation plan).
- Staff for operation and maintenance: 16.
- Trailheads: 6 multi-use trailheads, parking 30 cars each; signage, restrooms, seating. 3 equestrian trailheads.
- Close Telephone Line Road: when gravel mining stops.
- ADA Conformance (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990).
- Policies for visitor operations, conservation and park maintenance.
The Nature Preserve architecture will be of constructed materials and a rigid system of painted steel pipe columns on a 20-square-foot grid. The roof structure will be of metal trusses. The floor will "float" three feet above grade to allow the constructed interpretive wetland to meander beneath. Meandering walls leading from facilities to the Visitor/Education and from the Center to the interpretive amenities of the Park will be of either stone or concrete.
Within the 130-acre park, the Nature Center structures include a 35,000-square-foot interpretive center for visitors, a shaded entry plaza, boardwalks and viewing platforms. The Visitor Center campus will be 174,240 square feet; the parking lot will accommodate 90 automobiles.
Nature Preserve Trails
Trailheads provide arrival points to the Park and signage to assist Park orientation. Each trailhead provides paved and landscaped parking lots, minimal security solar lighting, seating and trash containers. Restrooms will be consistent with the architecture of the rest of the Park.
Equestrian trails use existing road corridors and natural pathways to link staging areas, trailheads and picnic areas. Horse trails will be 12-foot-wide graded natural soil. Paths in re-vegetation areas will have a one-foot reinforced shoulder using 3-inch minus gravel materials to prevent path edge degradation.
Paved 10-foot-wide asphalt paths are planned only in heavy traffic areas such as the Visitor Center. A gravel shoulder (matching color and texture of local deposits) one foot wide with plantings up to the edge of the trail will help contain path use. The trail will undulate with the terrain and vegetation in order to maintain the 5-percent slope requirements of ADA and provide a diverse pedestrian experience.
Gravel trails will have plantings and natural materials up to the immediate edge. This type of trail spans the length of the Park on both the north and the south sides. The trails will meet ADA requirements as noted above.
Unimproved, selected existing trails will be minimally graded and gravel-filled to enhance drainage. Planting along these trails will be enhanced to reinforce and contain trail use.
Boardwalks. Limited areas in and adjacent to wetlands will have raised, 10-foot-wide walkways with access to wetland wildlife observation areas. The elevation prevents interference with water flow and wetland vegetation.
Trailside Shade Structures and Viewing Blinds
Rest areas at half-mile intervals for pedestrians and cyclists include shade structures with seating areas, trash receptacles and interpretive/orientation signage. Structures will have rock walls and simple slab overhangs to provide shade, and be consistent in design and color with other elements throughout the Park.
Five viewing blinds allow visitors to observe the landscape and wildlife with minimum disturbance. Blind design blends with the colors and textures of the environment.
The group picnic area (43,560 acres) will include a picnic pavilion, individual table and bench areas, parking, a children's playground and waterless toilets. The elements of the area are oriented around a central open space that features native grasses and vegetation enhancement, while the facility design will blend with the natural landscape and screen poor views.
Wetlands Nature Preserve Dedication
The Nature Preserve covers 130 acres within the Clark County Wetlands Park. This area represents a major accomplishment within the first phase of the development of the Wetlands Park. On April 21, 2001, more than 200 guests braved chilly winds and unseasonable temperatures to attend the dedication of the Wetlands Nature Center. One of the highlights of the event was the completion of the first interactive kiosks for the Wetlands Park. This is the first of three kiosks that will help bring the wonders of the wetlands up close and personal for those who may have difficulty visiting the Wetlands. The kiosks are also a great way to look up trail maps and general information prior to a visit to the site.
Everyone is encouraged and invited to visit the Nature Preserve. It's an oasis of water, wildlife and vegetation on the floor of a desert valley. The Preserve features wildlife viewing blinds, a visitor's center, hiking trails and educational and historical markers. The park itself provides a habitat for countless species of wildlife and is an essential step toward cleaner water in Southern Nevada, making it one of the most extraordinary environments in the Southwest.