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Staff Photo by Jessica Cejnar
The Desert Discovery Center displays a preliminary model for an amphitheater, Thursday, that may be built on the land next to the museum.

BLM plans changes to Desert Discovery Center building, exhibits

BARSTOW • The Bureau of Land Management seeks public input as it moves forward with plans to renovate the Desert Discovery Center and change its exhibits and programs.

Local BLM officials seek to make the Desert Discovery Center building as environmentally friendly as possible by upgrading its windows and doors and installing a more energy efficient ventilation system, said Brad Mastin, the outdoor recreation planner at the Barstow field office. The BLM also plans to install an amphitheater, trails and themed zones featuring the Mojave Desert’s natural and historical wonders on the eight acres of public land next to the building.

About $270,000 in federal maintenance and capital improvement funding will pay for the museum renovations, which will take two years, Mastin said. The BLM will seek a $1.5 million grant from the California Parks Program for the addition of benches, public artwork and protected walkways in its garden area. A $1.5 million state Nature Education Facility grant will help pay for the amphitheater and themed zones, Mastin said. Development of the land next to the museum is expected to take about five years.

Other plans for the Desert Discovery Center include developing a career-oriented environmental education curriculum that would coincide with state education requirements. Mastin said the BLM will work with local experts to teach students about careers in botany, paleontology, archeology, renewable energy and other fields.

The BLM may also partner with the city to build a bridge that would span Barstow Road, connecting the museum with Dana Park and the Al Vigil Swim Center. According to Jeanette Hayhurst, the city’s community services director, the architect hired by the city to develop the plans for the swim center’s refurbishment will look into the cost of building a bridge.  

Volunteers have formed a design team for the building’s renovation, and the BLM seeks people to form education teams and interpretive teams to develop an environmental curriculum and address the proposed outdoor exhibits. Grant applications must be submitted to the state in March, Mastin said.

“What we’ll do to develop those zones is put together a design team for those zones,” he said. “We’ll work with teachers from local school districts and community members as they come forward. The team will be responsible for the features of that site.”

To qualify for both grants, the BLM must hold five public meetings, Mastin said. Two meetings have already been held, one just with residents living adjacent to the Desert Discovery Center and the other with the rest of the community. The next meeting will be held Jan. 20.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com


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