Allan Brooks Nature Centre manager Cheryl Hood welcomes guests to check out the new view boards donated by Vernon realtor David Pusey as the centre opens to the public under strict COVID-19 rules Wednesday, July 1. The boards are one of several new items to the centre, celebrating its 20th anniversary. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Vernon nature centre celebrates 20 years

Popular attraction opens July 1 with new play area, view boards and displays, and COVID rules

Vernon’s popular nature centre celebrates its 20th year of operation in 2020.

Nobody, of course, could have predicted that the milestone year for the Allan Brooks Nature Centre (ABNC) would be held in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.

With special COVID-19 rules in place, the ABNC opens to the public for its 20th year at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Canada Day, July 1.

“Our staff, our board and our volunteers have worked above and beyond getting the centre ready for guests and the public,” said ABNC manager Cheryl Hood.

In keeping with COVID-19 protocol, guests at the centre will be limited to 50 people. Inside, visitors will not be allowed to touch any of the displays, as per protocol, but there is still plenty to see.

New inside are displays under glass of different animal skulls and mostly bird eggs. You can check out your wingspan with the centre’s display and find out what bird matches your wingspan (160 centimetres for the reporter, that of an opsrey).

The hands-off rule is also to help protect the taxidermy of the stuff animals inside.

Outside, there are a couple of new areas.

One is a log structure playground just off the main entrance. Mardan Enterprises in Spallumcheen donated the logs which have been created into play structures, and Nokomis Landscaping arranged wood chips that are 12-14 inches deep.

Vernon realtor David Pusey contributed to new viewpoint signs at the centre’s north end that explain the history of the Greater Vernon area.

“We have received amazing support from the community,” said hood.

The nature centre’s popular summer camps are sold out (a waiting list is available if you want to go on it). The camps will run Tuesday to Saturday, limited to 14 kids per camp and a group of seven in one, a group of seven in the other, to maintain social and physical distancing rules.

The Allan Brooks Nature Centre is open Tuesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., starting July 1.

READ MORE: Vernon nature centre auctioning off dinner under the stars

READ MORE: Kal Rotary Club donates funds to fix up aging Vernon nature centre

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