ALUM CREEK, WV – State government officials joined leaders with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Claudia L. Workman Wildlife Education Center.
The 9,500-square-foot educational facility, located at the Forks of Coal State Natural Area in Alum Creek, features wildlife displays and nature exhibits that showcase West Virginia’s unmatched natural beauty.
The center will be open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. starting June 7. Admission is free.
The Claudia L. Workman Wildlife Education Center has five main areas.
An entrance area will introduce visitors to the WVDNR and Forks of Coal State Natural Area.
A 1,500-gallon aquarium and reptile and amphibian tanks will let visitors see native warm water fish, reptiles, and amphibians.
A wildlife management area featuring mounted animals will highlight extirpated wildlife that have been successfully restored in West Virginia. The state’s natural resource management success stories include the restoration of several important game species, including white-tailed deer, black bear, wild turkey, and, most recently, elk.
A habitat management area will show visitors how the WVDNR manages various habitats for wildlife. A wildlife observation area will feature a honeybee hive and birdwatching stations.
In addition to wildlife exhibits, the center features educational space, an amphitheater, and hiking trails.
“The Claudia L. Workman Wildlife Education Center is a dream come true and project that has been years in the making,” said WVDNR Director Brett McMillion. “We’re excited to finally be able to invite everyone to come out and experience all that this new wildlife education center has to offer.”
The opening of the Claudia L. Workman Wildlife Education Center fulfills the vision of the center’s namesake, the late Claudia Workman, whose husband Jack donated the 105-acre tract of land to the WVDNR in 2015 so a nature-based education center could be built.
Educational Programs are being developed utilizing a partnership with the Extension Service at West Virginia State University.
Area schools will be able to meet curriculum requirements by participating in programming developed specifically to educate students about West Virginia’s wildlife and its conservation.
“This facility will also serve as a gateway to the elk restoration area in southern West Virginia. As we continue to grow our elk herd, we anticipate wildlife viewing opportunities to continue to expand as the public rediscovers this magnificent animal,” McMillion added.
The center will be managed by the WVDNR and the Forks of Coal State Natural Area Foundation, which was instrumental in the creation of the exhibits. They received a nearly $1 million grant from the Abandoned Mine Lands program, administered through the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
To learn more about the center or the Forks of Coal State Natural Area and other natural and scenic areas in West Virginia, visit WVdnr.gov/natural-and-scenic-areas.