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BLM to begin Desert Discovery Center upgrades, expansion

Desert Discovery Center Expansion Open House:

Where: 831 Barstow Road in Barstow
When: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday

BARSTOW • After about two years of planning and gathering community input, the Bureau of Land Management is getting ready to enter into the building phase of its expansion of the Desert Discovery Center.

Local BLM officials hosting an open house at the Desert Discovery Center Thursday to show the community its plans for expanding the facility, including its eight-acre outdoor area.

Officials plan to add new exhibits, trails and an amphitheater to the museum.

Officials also plan to add a more energy-efficient roof and ventilation system to the building.

BLM Barstow Field Office Manager Roxie Trost will also sign a Savings By Design contract with Southern California Edison. Savings By Design is a statewide program that allows utilities to offer design assistance and incentives to owners who build energy-efficient commercial buildings.

The project has also been registered for certification through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED. Adrian-Gaus Architects Inc. of Redlands is the architect for the project.

Signing the agreement with Edison will allow their engineers to work with the BLM’s architect, said Brad Mastin, the outdoor recreation planner at the Barstow field office.

“This is a big step forward,” he said, adding that the BLM will also install solar panels on the discovery center’s roof. “Our current electric bill is maybe $1,200 (per month). We want to reduce that to $100 to $200 a month. It’s ambitious but we think we can do it.”

The BLM has funded $265,000 to pay for the new roof and upgraded ventilation system, which should be finished by the end of this year, Mastin said. The BLM and its partner, Main Street Murals, is also pursuing $8 million in state grant dollars for the Desert Discovery Center’s expansion.

Once the Desert Discovery Center is expanded, the facility will have teaching stations outside focused on a variety of classroom topics, such as biology, history, geology and paleontology. The Desert Discovery Center may also feature classes on fire safety, earthquake safety and other topics related to the desert, Mastin said.

Expanding the Desert Discovery Center is expected to take up to five years. The BLM will make its renovations when it gets funding for them, Trost said.

“We’re applying for grants and so if we have one of the grants go through it could speed (construction) up,” she said.

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