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Restoration of Clackamas Community College's 5-acre outdoor lab, amenities complete

The term "grassroots" is the definition of the creation and the restoration of the Environmental Learning Center (ELC) on the Clackamas Community College Oregon City campus.

PHOTO COURTESY: CCC - To honor Environmental Learning Center donors, Clackamas Community College students created an iron Giving Tree, with donors names etched in the leaves. The tree will be revealed during Discovery Day on June 7.The idea of creating the ELC gained momentum in 1973, when a group of students under the leadership of an art instructor, formed a committee and drafted a plan. That plan soon resulted in a 5-acre site featuring trails, a recycling hub, an observatory, a birds of prey exhibit, and hands-on environmental learning.

The college and the ELC have shared a long history. The relationship was shaped around a vision of environmental learning and stewardship. Today, the ELC is a coveted indoor and outdoor classroom for collegewide programs, such as Water and Environmental Technology. It also continues to attract regional universities and local community educational partners to the site.

Thanks to a Metro Nature in Neighborhoods grant, community members and the college, the Environmental Learning Center underwent a major restoration this past year. It has been rebuilt into a regionally significant outdoor learning laboratory that will continue to showcase innovations in stormwater management, landscape design and sustainable living practices.

In addition to improving the site's ability to manage and clean the stormwater flowing off of campus grounds, the restoration includes the addition of an outdoor amphitheater, building improvements, parking lot renovations, native plant restoration, walking trail adjustments, interpretive signage and many other features.

"The Environmental Learning Center has been a valued resource for the community for more than 40 years," said Renee Harber, ELC program director. "We are proud to continue the grassroots tradition of the ELC and environmental education."

A true community resource, the ELC is open for the public to explore and enjoy. The college also offers field trip opportunities, summer camps and adult community education.

To celebrate the ELC restoration completion, the community is invited to a Discovery Day from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 7, on the Oregon City campus, 19600 Molalla Ave. The event will include a short program, dedication of the Giving Tree, a blessing from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and time to explore the trails.

For more information, visit clackamas.edu/ELC. For more information about Discovery Day, call 503-594-3015.

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