Under Vance and Darlene Grannis’ vision and efforts and the help of many volunteers, DarVan Acres Nature Center has been established and is now operating as a non-profit organization. All Nature Center positions are currently staffed by volunteers at this time. An Advisory Board is being formed to activate the Nature Center vision and mission. Advisory Board members, volunteers, and donations are actively being sought and welcomed.
Significant progress has been made on the primary objective to preserve and restore the land in the Marcott Valley. Permanent, natural area conservation easements have now been placed on over 125 acres of contiguous land and critical habitat areas within Marcott Valley. The easements were acquired by Dakota County with County and State funding through Metro Greenways and Outdoor Heritage funds. These lands can never be developed.
The Nature Center has secured access to the Grannis property that is under conservation easement for restoration and educational activities. A Natural Resource Management Agreement is now in place with the County to begin oak savanna and upland prairie restoration within the Grannis property.
2019 will be a big year for the Nature Center with the beginning of the restoration of the land to its natural state. The advisory board and volunteers will be focusing on planting and land restoration and the reintroduction of native species. It will be exciting to see the fields of wild flowers and prairie grasses develop this year.
The location for a future Nature Center educational building has also been identified for property adjacent to the conservation easement. Although there is a small building on site for storage and staging small classes, it is inadequate to achieve the vision of the Nature Center. To realize this dream, significant fund raising will be needed to pay for the land and build the facility. Naming rights for the building and a Board Member seat are available for someone wanting to make a significant donation and create their legacy for supporting the environment through the Nature Center.
The lands included in the conservation easement remain in private ownership and are not open to the general public. Although the Nature Center does not have the resources to be open to the general public at this time, several days allowing general public access are being planned for 2019. Inquiries for access to special groups such as Scouts and environmental classes should be made by contacting the Nature Center activity director.
The DarVan Acres Nature Center is starting from humble beginnings, but one can see the future and what could be for DarVan Acres in the wonderful examples of Nature Centers such as the Dodge and Carpenter Nature Centers.