Wetlands Nature Center, Sunset Park Improvements & Yarnstorming Project Win Awards
The new nature center at Clark County Wetlands Park and much-touted improvements at Sunset Park have won Nevada Recreation and Park Society Elmer H. Anderson Park Excellence Awards. Meanwhile, a high-profile yarnstorming art project on a Maryland Parkway pedestrian bridge won a Nevada Recreation and Park Society Program Excellence Award.
A spectacular new, 45,000-square-foot Nature Center was opened in April at Southern Nevada’s largest and most rustic park, Clark County Wetlands Park, which was named overall Project of the Year and Special Project of the Year. The Nature Center features a 8,335-square-foot exhibit gallery with solar-powered insects flying overhead, samples of animal fur you can touch, and food chain models you can build. The gallery is designed to give visitors of all ages an interactive overview of the unique eco-system that Clark County Wetlands Park is designed to protect.
The Nature Center complex features 30,000 square feet of building space and 15,000 square feet of outdoor observation decking for dramatic viewing of the park and surrounding mountain ranges. Most of the park’s 2,900 acres are undeveloped and shaped by urban water runoff and reclaimed water that flows through the Las Vegas Wash and into Lake Mead.
The Nature Center was built on concrete piers because the area is flood prone. The complex includes an auditorium with orientation film, information kiosk and administrative offices. Eco-friendly design elements include insulation made from blue jeans, maximized use of natural lighting and bamboo flooring harvested from sustainable forests. Complex windows tilt toward the ground instead of the sky to minimize injuries to birds. Clark County’s Real Property Management department managed the design and construction of the project.
The Wetland Nature Center also was selected as the Southwest Region's Best Project by Engineering News Record in the Cultural/Houses of Worship category.
Visitor activity revolves around the 210-acre Nature Preserve, located on the west side of the park, and home of the new nature center. More than 200 species of birds and 70 species of mammals and reptiles have been spotted in the park, including beavers, coyotes, bobcats and snakes. The park features 13 miles of trails, including six within the Nature Preserve.
Clark County Wetlands Park is located at 7050 Wetlands Park Lane, about one mile east of Boulder Highway, off Tropicana Avenue. Admission inside the Nature Center is free, and hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., seven days a week. Outdoor visiting hours at the park are dawn to dusk.
A major renovation of popular Sunset Park also was recognized. Formally known as Phase 2 of the Sunset Park master plan, the project was started in June 2011 and its completion was celebrated in May. Seventy-five of the park’s 325 acres have undergone significant improvements. Many of the upgrades occurred around Sunset Lake, including the addition of a walking loop with exercise stations, lake-edge lighting, a new pedestrian plaza, restrooms, and a remodeled dock for remote-controlled boats. A new playground features a tree house, swinging bridge and slides that look like petrified logs. The nearby splash pad offers water fun during the community’s hottest months. Picnic spots have new shade structures, and turf areas are more spacious. A new roadway opened in the fall of 2012 to improve access to parking areas and other features in the park. Construction of this project was overseen by Clark County Public Works.
Located just 5 miles from the Las Vegas Strip at Sunset Road and Eastern Avenue, Sunset Park, one of Clark County’s oldest and most popular parks, has great historical importance. At the center of the park is the last remaining portion of sand dunes that once stretched across the southern part of the valley. The site was home to early ranchers and Native Americans, drawn there by water from artesian wells and plentiful food-bearing trees and plants. Paiute Indians inhabited the area and traded seeds, nuts and turquoise with visitors. Water still flows naturally under the park and provides irrigation.
The new Sunset Reservations Office located near the administrative building is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The office was a ranch house building that now offers bicycle, sports gear and equipment rentals. Reservations for picnic facilities, ball fields and other amenities also can be booked through the office or by calling (702) 455-8200.
A yarnstorming project also caught the attention of judges, who awarded a Program Excellence Award. Yarnstorming came to public consciousness locally with the unveiling in June 2012 of a project made of crocheted and knitted art on a pedestrian bridge leading to Sunrise Hospital on Maryland Parkway near Desert Inn Road. The art consisted of sunrise-inspired colored circles of all shapes and sizes.
The yarnstormers themselves are age 50 and older and are headquartered at the West Flamingo Senior Center. Instead of paintbrushes or steel, the seniors use their crochet or knitting needles to create pieces of all shapes and sizes. Yarnstorming is the art of creating small cozies to adorn urban landscapes, cheering up otherwise bare, concrete environments with bright colors and patterns.
This particular project has also landed Clark County on the Worldwide Yarn Bombing Map of more than 100 significant yarn bombings: http://yarnplaces.com/yarn-bombing/.
The West Flamingo Active Adult Center is located at 6255 W. Flamingo Road, near Jones Boulevard.
Those interested in the Yarnstormers group can call the center at (702) 455-7742 or visit the website at www.ClarkCountyNV.gov/parks. Additional Clark County Parks and Recreation events and activities also can be found on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 12th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to more than 2 million citizens and 43 million visitors a year. Included are the nation’s 8th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The County also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to almost 900,000 residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.