Refuge moving headquarters from flood plainARROWWOOD NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE — Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge near Pingree, N.D., has begun construction on a new headquarters, including a visitors center/office building and maintenance and equipment outbuildings — this time up on a hill rather than the present site on the flood plain of Arrowwood Lake.
ARROWWOOD NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE — Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge near Pingree, N.D., has begun construction on a new headquarters, including a visitors center/office building and maintenance and equipment outbuildings — this time up on a hill rather than the present site on the flood plain of Arrowwood Lake.
The present U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service headquarters was established in the mid-1930s during the Dust Bowl years with facilities added through the years including a visitors center/office building in 1984. The site turned out to be a poor choice when floodwaters in 2009 washed through two dikes drowning all the maintenance facilities. Only the visitors center building remained safe behind a third dike.
“When water goes over the spillway — the glory hole — at Jamestown Dam, we have to build a dike or we have water in the building,” said Kim Hanson, Arrowwood Complex project leader, sitting in the conference room of the visitors center/office building. “The floor here is below the spillway elevation.”
Although it was protected from floodwaters the building hasn’t been the same, Hanson said. The building has suffered plumbing and electrical problems ever since.
He said they’d already planned to move the shop and had the money to build a new facility on the hill.
“We didn’t want the shop down here,” Hanson said. “We’d outgrown it on this level. It was outdated and there were a lot of safety concerns.”
They had also outgrown the visitors center/office building and, with its other problems, decided to look for funding to build new. They found it or rather Region 6 Division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found it, Hanson said.
“The Region canceled funding at other places and allocated it to Arrowwood,” he said. “There was also $10 million available in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act designated for roads and refuges. We got $5.56 million of that.”
The reallocation of funds is allowing Arrowwood to construct an equipment storage building as well as a shop/fire cache up on the hill. However, the $5.56 million in stimulus funding didn’t cover the $6.9 million estimated in the preliminary design for a new visitors center/office building, which will overlook the lake.
“We had to make some cuts,” Hanson said. “We had to give up some space in the exhibit area, a bookstore and a main floor employee restroom.”
What they gained was square footage in the walk-out basement of the new facility. And the employee restroom in the basement will be reinforced with concrete to double as a tornado shelter.
Jennifer Zorn, Arrowwood biologist, said the present building has 3,700 square feet of space, crowding the 11 full-time and 12 seasonal staff together. Some have been shoved out into the hall or into the conference/break room.
The new building will boast a spacious 8,200 square feet on the main floor and 6,200 square feet in the walk-out basement. Construction work so far has completed most of the basement plus some floor joists.
“We broke ground the first week in June and the building will be fully enclosed by November,” Zorn said. “All three buildings will be done by May 2011.”
The new facility for visitors and Arrowwood staff will be state of the art in energy efficiency. It will have geothermal heating and cooling, solar voltaic panels to supplement electricity and insulation panels in walls and ceilings. The metal roof will be steeply pitched and clerestory windows on the south side of the building will let in natural light.
The visitors center portion of the building includes floor to ceiling windows and a patio for viewing Arrowwood Lake. Zorn said the patio will have a couple of spotting scopes and interpretative display panels. The new facility will be handicapped accessible; the present building is not.
“With the new building we’ll be able to hold more events,” she said. The 2,675-square-foot visitor wing includes a good-sized lobby and large multi-purpose room.
Eventually all the buildings at the present site will be removed or demolished. Two houses for staff will also go with a bunkhouse up on the hill replacing one. The present road will still be used but it will be extended to go around and up the hill to the new visitors center.
Once all the Arrowwood facilities are gone from below, Hanson and Zorn said the area will be returned to its natural state.
“We’ll rehab the whole area down here as though nothing had been here,” Hanson said.
“Then we’ll turn it into a day use area,” she said and added that could mean trails, picnic areas and wildlife viewing areas.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org