NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana Nature Center, closed since Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago, will reopen this fall after a $10 million restoration.
Once reopened, the Nature Center will feature walking trails, a learning lab and exhibits that teach children about local plant and animal life in an up close way.
And while local nature will be featured, that won’t be the exclusive focus. The center will also include a planetarium that can show real-time images from NASA.
Most of the Nature Center's reconstruction was covered by disaster recovery money that FEMA paid out after Katrina’s floodwaters swamped the campus on 86 acres of hardwood bottomland forest.
The Nature Center, located in Joe Brown Park in New Orleans East, opened in March 1980 and was a project of the Junior League of Greater New Orleans. It merged with the Audubon Nature Institute in 1994.
Before the storm, it hosted more than 40,000 visitors and reached another 45,000 people at schools and festivals.
For the last few months, the center has hosted a limited number of small groups, but once it opens for good sometime after Labor Day, schools throughout Louisiana and beyond will be able to book field trips, according to The New Orleans Advocate.
Admission to the park will be free, but there will be fees for special programs and overnight stays. No one will be allowed to stay overnight unless there is a scheduled activity, and a park ranger will be on duty.
The walking trails will be open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; the Exhibit Hall will be open those same hours Wednesday through Sunday. The planetarium will open for scheduled programming only.