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Changes to Kingfisher Discovery Center Project

Thursday, November 17, 2016 8:17 AM | Rick Shields (Administrator)

In the face of rising cost estimates and stricter engineering requirements for the Kingfisher Discovery Center Project, the Board of Directors of Friends of the Savannah Coastal Wildlife Refuges has found it necessary to revise the time line and phasing of the project.  The original project cost estimate of $350,000 developed over two years ago, has now risen to closer to $600,000.  In addition, the Department of the Interior now requires that the total estimated cost of any project must be deposited into a designated account with the cooperating agency before any construction can begin.  This derailed our original plan to build the center in phases as the funds became available.

We have raised more than $90,000 over the past two years for the project.  Increasing our target to $600,000 would mean many more years of continued fund-raising and the real chance that we might never reach that new goal within what any of us would consider a reasonable amount of time.  During that prolonged period, the demonstrated need for expanded educational opportunities for children and youth in our area would go unmet.

The Friends Board of Directors, the leadership of the Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex, and the Friends Advisory Council remain convinced of the need for the Discovery Center.

Therefore, the Friends announce the following changes to the Kingfisher Discovery Center Project:

  • 1.     We will construct a screened-in covered pavilion on a concrete foundation at the proposed Discovery Center site adjacent to the Savannah NWR Visitor Center.  This will provide us with a functioning classroom space much sooner than if we delay until we have raised the larger amount needed to build the fully-enclosed building whose image has appeared on our website and promotional materials.
  • 2.     This pavilion will be designed and built such that if and when sufficient funds become available, it can be fully enclosed and upgraded to the original concept.
  • 3.     Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex will manage the construction and consider the use of Complex staff to assist in construction where possible.
  • 4.     The Friends group will continue to raise funds dedicated to the construction of the Discovery Center.  Efforts will now expand to include soliciting major local donors as well as state, national, and regional foundations and grantors.
  • 5.     In partnership with the Complex leadership, we will endeavor to secure federal funding for the building conversion, understanding that this is not assured and that, even if possible, will be years in the future.
  • 6.     Our new fund-raising goal for the revised project is $250,000, all of which must be on hand before construction can commence.
  • 7.     If, through our fund-raising efforts, we able to reach the $600,000 mark within the next year, we will proceed with the original plans and skip the intermediate pavilion stage.

This plan will enable us to provide a functional facility much sooner than if we wait until we can afford to build the fully enclosed all-season version.  If you have already made a donation to the project, and are not comfortable with this revised plan, please contact us.

We remain committed to the project, and hope that you are too.  If you want to help us continue the effort, or if you have ideas on how to help, please let us know.

We can be reached at webmaster@coastalrefuges.org.

Please consider donating to the Friends! 

Email us at webmaster@

Copyright 2017
PO Box 16841
Savannah, GA, 31416

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