Hartley Nature Center Celebrates Expansion and Park Improvements

DULUTH, Minn. – “The magic of Hartley Park is getting kids and people outside and connected to the natural world,” Hartley Nature Center Executive Director, Tom O’Rourke said.

Hartley Nature Center held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of its building expansion along with other park related improvements. New additions to the building include two classrooms, a restroom, office space, and public meeting room.

With this 5,000 square foot expansion, Hartley will be able to host more people in their core programs including pre-school, summer camp, and school field trips.

“It’s been a multi-year project that has involved a lot of partners: the City of Duluth, the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission, Hartley Nature Center. So, it’s really gratifying to see years’ worth of work by so many people realized is really great,” O’Rourke said.

The project started in 2019 when the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission designated Hartley as a regionally significant facility.
Through this designation, Hartley was granted nearly 1.3 million dollars in legacy amendment funding.

Additional project support came from the Center itself and the City Park fund, resulting in the total 2.8-million-dollar project.

“Having a fabulous new facility like this to add on the existing center is fabulous but what it does most important is it gets kids out into the outdoors. It gets them out in nature, learning about it, enjoying it, discovering it, and hopefully building a lifelong passion and a habit to being outdoors,” Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission Executive Director, Renee Mattson said.

Outside of the facility is 660 acres of mother nature, now equipped with new signage with park kiosks, maps, and directional way finding. There is also a new pedestrian access from Woodland Avenue to the Nature Center and an additional parking lot.

“We’re surrounded by trout streams on three sides. We have technology that insures clean, cold water get into the trout streams. We have plantings that are sourced regionally that ensure that they’re pollinator friendly, they’re good for habitat. I mean, you look around this new addition and it’s meant to esthetically fit in the landscape,” City of Duluth Landscape Architect, Jim Shoberg said.

The City’s goal is to incorporate this new form of signage across all parks over the next five to eight years.

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