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New exhibits coming: Hemlock Bluffs wins grant to update nature center

Posted August 1

A boardwalk at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary has received a major grant that will help the destination revamp the exhibits inside its nature center.

The Friends of Hemlock Bluffs, a support and fundraising group for the state nature preserve, which is managed by the town of Cary, has received a two-year, $40,000 grant from the N.C. Science Museums Grant Program. The money will be used to integrate science and technology into the preserve's Stevens Nature Center exhibit hall. The Friends of Hemlock Bluffs also has received another grant from Cary and private donations to help pay for upgrades to the exhibits, which are estimated to cost about $50,000.

Morgan Bosse, Hemlock Bluffs' program specialist, tells me the funding will first pay for the creation of a new welcome video inside the nature center, which could be premiered by the end of this year or early next year. The remainder of the funding will update other exhibits to incorporate technology and make them more hands on.

The nature center explores the history of Hemlock Bluffs and its unique environmental features, including a community of Eastern Hemlock trees and other mountain plant species. The preserve includes three miles of mulched nature trails, scenic overlooks and the nature center.

It's one of my favorite places for a quick family hike in the area. The nature center is a great pit stop to learn more about what you might see along the trails. Bosse said it's also designed for those who might not be able to navigate some of the trails. One includes a long staircase.

"We really want it to be a place where, if you can't go on the trail, you can get a sense of what is here and appreciate what is here," she said. "That's always been the goal. It's another way of doing environmental education on site."

The Friends of Hemlock Bluffs continues to raise money toward exhibit improvements. You can learn more about the project and the campaign on the group's website.

The preserve and nature center are at 2616 Kildaire Farm Rd., Cary.

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