The outdoor learning center project includes a nature and birding trail along with a wetland observation deck.
The outdoor learning center project includes a nature and birding trail along with a wetland observation deck. (Photo Credit: Lauren Zimmermann ) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Team Redstone community is invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Outdoor Learning Center and nature path funded by the installation's energy savings efforts.

The event is at 2 p.m. Oct. 23 near the Outdoor Recreation building on Sportsman Drive.

Joey Skinner, director of Garrison’s Directorate of Public Works, said the center is comprised of the classroom, a nature and birding trail, a wetland observation deck and an archery range, all of which will be open and ready for use on the day of the ribbon cutting.

Skinner said patrons of the center include “all of Team Redstone,” including communities throughout north Alabama and southern Tennessee.

The new center replaces an older outdoor learning center and an overrun “Path to Nature” on the south side of the Arsenal near the Col. Carroll D. Hudson Recreation Area. That center and path have been out of use for a number of years after serving as a field trip destination for thousands of area students, Skinner said.

Funds for the learning center came from the Resilient Energy Funding for Readiness and Modernization or REFoRM program, a government incentive program that awards military installations for reducing overall energy costs.

A $3 million award to Redstone for energy savings in 2014 and 2015 was also earmarked for improvements, including the following:

·        The resurfacing and striping of over eight miles of the walking/jogging running trail on post

·        The refreshment of the facilities at the Col. Carroll D. Hudson Recreation Area

·        The addition of a restroom facility and volleyball courts at the Goss Road/Skinner recreation area

·        Enhancements to the track on Patton Road to support Army Combat Fitness Test efforts

Also planned is the installation of a large pavilion, parking lot and pickleball courts, etc. at the Patton Road/Gray Road recreational area, Skinner said.

Sarah Brazzel, lead management and program analyst in the Public Works business operations and integration division, said Redstone was the first and only installation to get approval for REFoRM projects in fiscal year 2022, and among the top three awardees in this fiscal year.

Skinner said the center’s primary purpose is “to promote being a good steward to the environment,” and will be open to area schools for outdoor learning on such occasions as Earth Day and Arbor Day and upon special request.

Scheduling for the facility will be run through his directorate’s Cultural and Natural Resources branch, he said. For more information on scheduling the outdoor classroom, contact Stacy Hull at 256-842-8799 or stacy.m.hull.civ@army.mil.

Outdoor Recreation is at building 5139 on Sportsman Road. For more information on the archery program, call Tom Pyburn at 256-876-4868.