New Visitor Education Center Opens at Old Faithful
Contact: Al Nash, 307-344-2015
National Park Service
Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful Geyser erupted as if on cue as the keynote speaker wrapped up his remarks Wednesday at the dedication of the new Visitor Education Center at Old Faithful.
The Yellowstone National Park Mounted Color Guard presented the colors to begin the morning ceremony, to the strains of “America the Beautiful” performed by the Wyoming National Guard’s 67th Army Band.
Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis hosted the hourlong event, along the boardwalk between the new building and the famous geyser.
“Helping visitors enjoy Yellowstone – and helping them understand the role they play in protecting this place and others like it for this and future generations is one of the most important parts of the National Park Service mission,” said Lewis. “It was certainly in the forefront of our minds as work began on this new visitor education center more than 10 years ago.”
Author and historian Paul Schullery encouraged the crowd of more than 600 invited guests and park visitors to heed the sentiments of President Theodore Roosevelt after his 1903 visit to the park: “Every day, we work to understand Yellowstone again, in light of new science, new needs, and new dreams,” noted Schullery. “Roosevelt felt that we have learned to cherish Yellowstone not only for all it has given us so far, but also for all the things that it keeps in trust for us until the day we are wise enough to recognize them.”
$15 million of the $27 million cost of design and construction of the new Old Faithful Visitor Education Center was provided by the nonprofit Yellowstone Park Foundation, the official fundraising partner of Yellowstone National Park. More than 400 individuals, foundations, and corporations made contributions to the Yellowstone Park Foundation for the project, ranging from two dollars to three million dollars.
Tom Strickland, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks commented that this is part of our nation’s tradition. “Conservation in America has always been a partnership between the government and the people.” Strickland went on to praise the fact that “this new visitor center is a stunning example of what can be achieved through public-private partnership to advance the causes of conservation, preservation, and education.”
National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis unveiled the plaque from the U.S. Green Building Council recognizing that the new Visitor Education Center has achieved Gold LEED certification in recognition of its sustainable construction and operational standards.
The building was also designed to set new standards for accessibility and for the interpretation of complex scientific information to the public. “The interactive exhibits will engage curious young minds, reaching a generation … that is more technologically sophisticated than any other in our history,” said Jarvis.
It was a theme Bannus Hudson, the Chairman of the Yellowstone Park Foundation, echoed in his remarks. “Yellowstone aspired to create more than just a visitor center so that the 3 million people who visit the area would leave Old Faithful with a deeper understanding of its extraordinary geothermal features and be inspired to help steward Yellowstone.” Hudson reflected that “the building would not be what it is today without the generosity of these many partners in the effort.”
The doors to the new facility opened to the public for the first time at the conclusion of the ceremony. Those unable to attend the event in person were able to go online to watch the event live on the Old Faithful streaming webcam.
The dedication ceremony was held in conjunction with the 94th birthday of the National Park Service. Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first national park, created by an Act of Congress and signed into existence on March 1, 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant.
- www.nps.gov/yell -
Did You Know?
The 1988 fires affected 793,880 acres or 36 percent of the park. Five fires burned into the park that year from adjacent public lands. The largest, the North Fork Fire, started from a discarded cigarette. It burned more than 410,000 acres.