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SIOUX CITY | The Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center, at 4500 Sioux River Road, opened in 1995.

Situated in Stone State Park, it includes 14,000 square feet of classroom, exhibit and office space, natural history and live native reptile exhibits, as well as a butterfly and wildflower garden, and outdoor amphitheater and a variety of programs throughout the year.

Last summer, the center opened a new raptor house and an extensive playscape.

The Discovery Forest Nature Playscape is just west of the center. Built at a cost of $97,000, it includes a large spider web for climbing, a digging area, a multi-level tree fort and a hollow log to crawl through. Musical chimes are part of the playscape.

The Loess Falls water feature of the playscape is adjacent to the south edge of the center, while the rest of the playscape is located a few hundred yards away.

The Loess Falls centerpiece is a series of waterfalls and ponds with stepping stones built into a retaining wall. People can wade into water about 18 inches deep and sit on benches to listen to the waterfalls.

Frogs and other animals quickly have come to enjoy living in the water. Signs of overnight visiting deer and raccoons showed wide allure to among larger park animals.

The raptor house cost $46,000, and has a distinctive design to hold the wildlife. The two-room facility allows the Nature Center to house at least two different birds of prey. Snyder said the outdoor facility just south of the center is useful, because visitors can use viewing windows to see wild birds year-round.

Theresa Kruid, a naturalist at the center, collaborated with various raptor facilities across America to design key features. Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials approved the facility.

There are perches, windows with screening to keep out predators but allow sunlight and elements such as rain to come in.


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