Lodgepole Visitor Center to receive a makeover


There are some exciting new changes inside and out being planned for the popular Lodgepole Visitor Center in Sequoia National Park. On Tuesday, Feb. 6, a National Park Service design team unveiled plans to update the exhibits that have not received a complete makeover since the center was built during the years 1963 to 1967.  The current exhibits inside the visitor center were installed in 1978.
The purpose of a public meeting held at the Three Rivers Memorial Building on Tuesday, Feb. 6, was to discuss what will be done with the floor plan and exhibits in a building that has been determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
Woody Smeck, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, who was in attendance at the meeting, said upgrades including a new roof and remodeled restrooms will be undertaken concurrently with the installation of the new exhibits.
Erika Williams, an NPS visual specialist based at Ash Mountain, spoke briefly about the project before she introduced the consultants with HealyKohler Design of Washington, D.C., who are working under an NPS contract. Emily Furman Sennett, the design team’s consulting creative director, said the 1978 exhibits contain lots of photos and murals but lack interactive exhibits. 
“The current exhibits aren’t up to today’s standards,” Furman Sennett said. “They are not kid-friendly and there is nothing to touch. The auditorium is almost as big as the current exhibit hall and is little used. That space will extensively reworked.”
The emphasis currently is connecting with nature and the park and inspiring each visitor to choose a park experience they want to investigate further on their own. Within the three alternatives currently being proposed, four themes are being explored:
—An Extensive Dynamic Landscape. From the highest mountain to the lowest elevation of the foothills.
—Expanding Horizons. The park is the jumping off place for visitors to experience new places physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
—Conservation History. A place to travel to, within, and through and a history of that use and stewardship.
—Wilderness. A vast majority of Sequoia National Park is wilderness, and visitors should experience why wild lands are preserved for people and wildlife.
The three schematic designs being proposed for the visitor center’s floor plan contain the interpretive themes. Tuesday’s meeting was the first of an on-going conversation where the public is invited to share their experiences and knowledge of Lodgepole and to inform the Park Service what they would like to see in the new exhibits.
The work inside the visitor center has a budget of $1.3 million, which will be funded entirely by entrance fees. The new exhibits are scheduled to be completed in late 2020 or early 2021. 
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks seek public comment on the draft alternative design plans for the Lodgepole Visitor Center. The HealyKohler Design firm, which was selected to do the exhibit planning and design, has developed three alternatives for the exhibits and reconfiguration of the space. Public feedback will be taken into consideration when the park makes the final selection. A public comment period on the proposed project will continue through WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2018. 
The documents are online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/. Scroll down in ascending date order to the “February 28” listings and click on the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks entry.
Mail or hand-deliver written comments to:
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Attn: Exhibits at Lodgepole Visitor Center
47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA  93271
Erika Williams, (559) 565-3729

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