Audubon Center receives $1 million from secret donor


anonymous donor from the North Olympic Peninsula gave a $1 million endowment to the Dungeness River Audubon Center last month.

The fund is not "money in the bank." Instead, it is invested and the center reaps the accumulated interest.

"If you figure a 5-percent return, we would get $50,000 a year," said Powell Jones, Audubon Center education coordinator.

Upon receiving the donation, Bob Boekelheide, center director, said, "We are so incredibly grateful for this generous donation.

"The donation provides stability and opportunity for the center and park to continue what we do best - teaching about the natural world of the Olympic Peninsula."

The center, nestled in the woods near the Dungeness River, opened in October 2001. It provides educational programs for children and adults, including school field trips, natural history classes and how-to presentations for homeowners.

Its school programs focus on grades four to eight, bringing children to the park to monitor the river and to learn how humans have used natural resources in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley in the past 14,000 years.

"This amazing gift provides a cornerstone for the Dungeness River Audubon Center's endowment," said Julie Jackson, co-chairwoman of the River Center's Endowment Committee.

"As the endowment grows, it will enable the center to provide its highly recognized programs and to support beautiful Railroad Bridge Park for future generations."

The donor, who doesn't want to be identified, made the contribution with the intent that others would add money to the endowment fund, Jones said.

The Dungeness River Audubon Center at Dungeness Railroad Park is bustling with activity.

In 2008, the center and its partners participated in and facilitated more than 600 events involving more than 20,000 people.

A counter installed last year on Railroad Bridge by the Bureau of Indian Affairs revealed almost 100,000 crossings throughout the year.

Upcoming events include:

_ A "Winter Birds of the North Olympic Peninsula" class Jan. 22-Feb. 2.

_ A "Raptors in Winter" seminar

and field trip Feb. 20-21.

_ The Olympic Peninsula BirdFest in April.

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