GREENVILLE, Maine — By next summer, visitors to the Moosehead Lake region can do one-stop shopping to learn about the history of the area and its resources, find accommodations, and discover what the region has to offer.
On Feb. 4, after more than two decades of discussions, fundraising and hard work, the Natural Resource Education Center’s education and visitors center, located on Route 15 just outside of Greenville, will be completed.
The facility, funded in part by a $253,000 federal grant, will house NREC, the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce and the Forest Society of Maine on land overlooking the 100 Mile Wilderness, a mountainous terrain encompassing the Appalachian Trail between Monson and Mount Katahdin.
“I’m very pleased,” Mildred Kennedy-Stirling, NREC’s president, said Friday. “We’ve waited — 1991 was when we were incorporated and we started this process, and it’s now 2011.”
It has been a long 20 years, she added.
While NREC, the Chamber and the society will move into the building over the winter months and the spring, Stirling said, the facility won’t officially open until a ramp for the disabled is constructed in late spring.
“It’s going to be wonderful for the region,” Stirling said of the facility. “Having the Chamber in that location, it’s really going to serve and orient the public.”
She said the region has a nice Chamber, but it’s easy to miss it in its current location up the road.
The nonprofit NREC had planned to use the basement of the building for a conference room and for outdoor education, but that use was prohibited through the uniform access law. So officials now are looking for about $100,000 more in funds to add an addition in future years to double the size of the 35-by-40-foot building, according to Stirling.
Since its inception, NREC has served as an educational center without walls, teaching youngsters and adults alike about the natural resources and culture of the region. The new facility will take that education one step further, according to Stirling.
Visitors will be able to stop and get information about the region, become educated about the unique partnership landowners have with Maine residents, and learn more about the water resources and the wildlife, she noted. There will be orientation services, educational exhibits, on-site and off-site programs, and public restrooms. The property also has interpretive trails for the public’s use.
For information on NREC, visit www.naturalresourceeducationcenter.org.