The Joplin Globe
It was once called a pipe dream. A pet project of a special interest group. And, of course, a waste of money.
After all, why put resources into some birds, flowers and trees?
Today, thanks to a group of independent thinkers, Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center, located in Wildcat Park, is one of Joplin’s most visited attractions.
It is adjacent to the last of the world’s remaining chert glades, provides a scenic centerpiece to the city’s trail system, and boasts outdoor and indoor classrooms.
The $5.5 million project got its support from private and public money. On top of that, former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond secured $1 million for the center. It opened its doors in 2007 and this week is its fifth birthday.
On Wednesday, a faithful group of the center’s supporters celebrated with speeches, a ribbon-cutting and cake. They also planted a tree.
The Audubon Center is a partnership project of Audubon Missouri, the city of Joplin and the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Wildcat Glades is a study in sustainability in more ways than one. It continues to need the support of area residents who enjoy the programs put on at the center. A subsidy supplied by the taxpayers through the city of Joplin is set to end in two more years. The center has definitely provided Joplin-area residents with a better quality of life experience during the past five years.
It should also serve as an inspiration to those who are helping to rebuild Joplin in the wake of the May 22, 2011, tornado.
Those who dream big are usually more than just dreamers.
Happy birthday, Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center. Here’s to another great year.