Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yellowstone Park Foundation Helps Provide a New Experience at Old Faithful

/PRNewswire/ -- Yellowstone National Park unveiled its new, state-of-the-art Visitor Education Center at Old Faithful, creating a focal point of innovative learning opportunities in the heart of Yellowstone.

"While there are more geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone than in the rest of the world combined, most visitors were leaving the park without a basic understanding of the amazing hydrothermal wonders they had just encountered," explained Karen Bates Kress, President of the nonprofit Yellowstone Park Foundation. "Now, thanks to many generous donors, we can open this Center -- and the minds of nearly 3 million visitors annually -- to the wonders of the park."

Multi-media and interactive exhibits will enable visitors of all ages to discover what makes a geyser erupt, what creatures thrive in the scalding hot spring waters, and how the park's fascinating volcanic past is visible today.

The Center has already been recognized for its eco-friendly design with a Gold LEED designation from the U.S. Green Building Council. It is one of the first National Park Service visitor centers to achieve this Gold rating through its use of sustainable elements in building construction and materials, energy and water conservation, and indoor air quality.

In 2000, the Yellowstone Park Foundation officially launched its capital campaign to help fund the new Visitor Education Center, and ultimately contributed $15 million of the total cost of design, construction, and exhibits. This was matched by $12 million in federal funds.

More than 400 individuals, foundations, and corporations made donations to the Yellowstone Park Foundation for the project. ConocoPhillips, Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Toyota stepped up to help America's Park with gifts of $1 million or more.

An undersized and outdated visitor center built in the late 1960s was demolished to make way for the new two-story, 26,000-square-foot structure. The new building has been designed to be compatible with the rustic architectural style of the Old Faithful Historic District.

The nonprofit Yellowstone Park Foundation has been Yellowstone National Park's official fundraising partner organization since 1996. The Foundation works in cooperation with the Park to fund projects and programs that protect, preserve, and enhance the natural and cultural resources and the visitor experience of Yellowstone.

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