Audubon Cuts Ribbon on New Wildlife Habitat

Cutting the ribbon on Audubon Community Nature Center’s new Pamela A. Westrom Wildlife Habitat are, from left, Executive Director Leigh Rovegno, Curt and Susie Westrom, and Animal Care Specialist and building designer Kim Turner.

The Audubon Community Nature Center recently had a quiet ribbon-cutting on the Pamela A. Westrom Wildlife Habitat that will soon showcase a variety of birds of prey that are found within the region.

A graduate of Jamestown High School, Northeastern University and Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Pam Westrom was an environmentalist, pilot, sky diver, scuba diver and hang-glider, but her passions were sailing and birding.

“We want to recognize Pam for leading a life that was inspired by nature, and we are so grateful to her for providing the funds that allowed us to create this incredible new facility,” said Leigh Rovegno, Audubon executive director.

Westrom’s brother, Curt Westrom, and his wife, Susie, of Bemus Point, New York, participated in the ribbon-cutting.

Rovegno thanks the Westroms, “For encouraging us to dream far bigger than the original small enclosure we were thinking of, for trusting us to create something that truly honors Pam’s memory, and for investing in ACNC’s future and commitment to providing real and healthy connections to nature.”

The Lenna Foundation, Scott Electric, and the Cummins Foundation are recognized for providing funds to help cover increased construction costs due to COVID and to purchase necessary items to furnish the prep-room: refrigerators, freezers, sinks, storage, and such. The Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation recently awarded a grant that will provide funding for a paved access trail around the new enclosures which will increase accessibility for visitors.

Hundreds of individual donors contributed through Give Big Chautauqua and the 2021 ACNC Birdathon fundraisers.

Sarah Hatfield, Audubon education coordinator, was construction manager. Kim Turner, animal care specialist, designed the building, and over the past year has been participating in weekly training with Tamarack Wildlife Center as part of the licensing and permitting process. Jeff Tome and Katie Finch, then-senior nature educators, were in charge of landscaping, access, and educational interpretation. C&R Construction, who built the project and was present at the ribbon-cutting, is described as “Contractor Extraordinaire.” Terry LeBaron, buildings and grounds manager, Jerry Hildom and the Audubon Community Nature Center OWL Volunteers assisted with various tasks, such as mounting the plaque and making adjustments to the structure as needed.

While the interior of the building is complete, work remains to be done before residents can move in. Turner is completing her required number of training hours and permits have been submitted to acquire birds.

Audubon is waiting to hear about the permits to complete the aviaries to the needs of the individual birds. For instance, a large hawk would have different perch sizes and needs than a small hawk, so ACNC has to learn about the bird to create what they need. The acquisition process is slow, but Audubon officials hope to have birds sometime next year.

In the meantime, the public is welcome to visit Liberty, Audubon’s non-releasable Bald Eagle, in her outdoor enclosure next to the Pamela A. Westrom Wildlife Habitat. Liberty can be viewed from dawn to dusk daily, at no charge.

The Audubon Community Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren. View the grounds and use the six miles of trails for hiking, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing for free from dawn to dusk every day as well. The three-story Nature Center building houses interactive displays, a collection of live animals including the Hellbender exhibit, the 2021 Nature Photography Contest winners, and the Blue Heron Gift Shop. Visitors are welcome Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Nature Center members enjoy free building admission daily, and building admission is free every Sunday for non-Nature Center members as well.

The building will be closed on Christmas Eve and Day and New Year’s Day.

To learn more about Audubon and its programs, call 569-2345, visit AudubonCNC.org, or find Audubon Community Nature Center on Facebook. All visitors, volunteers, and staff are required to wear face coverings while inside the building; any updates to these requirements can be found at the COVID-19 Notice on that webpage.


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