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News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 393

Briceburg Visitor Center sports renovations, extended summer hours

In July 2008, it wasn’t certain if the Bureau of Land Management’s Briceburg Visitor Center on the Merced River would be left standing as the Telegraph Fire burned nearby. The Visitor Center has not only survived, but been remodeled and expanded hours through partnerships.

“BLM has known the visitor center has been underutilized,” said Dave Greenwood, BLM river ranger at Briceburg. BLM has been partnering with the Upper Merced River Watershed Council, including discussing how to use the visitor center. (text continues below)

Four men paint the porch ceiling and trim on the visitor center buildingq

Using a 2008 Sierra Nevada Conservancy grant, the Watershed Council and Mariposa County Resource Conservation District performed substantial renovations to the center and installed permanent restrooms nearby. Interior walls were removed and a counter was relocated to make the center more functional. The non-profit Yosemite Association provides interpretive publications at Briceburg.

Mariposa High School students are painting a mural on the walls of a room at the visor center that, when completed, will let visitors see what the Merced River looks like from a fish’s perspective.

“We want to be able to educate the public about the watershed,” said Tracy Greenwood, a volunteer at the visitor center for 10 years. A long-range goal is to connect the river corridor with natural/interpretive activities at Yosemite Park.

The visitor center now has a flag in front and an additional highway sign that says Yosemite Park information is available.

That park information is now available every day through an agreement with the National Park Service (NPS). Dave Greenwood and Terry McLaughlin, education coordinator with the Watershed Council, met with NPS to discuss using the visitor center to provide information to Yosemite visitors. As a result, a Park Service employee is at the center Monday through Thursday through mid-August. Until this year, the center was only open Friday through Sunday due to limited staff. The center is open 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. all other days. (text continue below)

David Greenwood, Jane Boren of the National Park Service and Tracy Greenwood stand in front of the visitor center
Two women and a man who staff the visitor center stand on the building's front porch

Long-range plans call for making the visitor center even more useful. Additional work has been delayed due to the state’s budget problems. When funding is available, tables and chairs and audiovisual equipment will be purchased to allow the center to be used as a training facility and meeting room.

A sign, modeled on the original Briceburg sign, will be installed on the roof to make the building more visible to travelers.  Funding and support is being sought to install displays to educate Briceburg visitors about the watershed.

Since its construction in 1927 as the River View Tavern, the stone building has seen a variety of uses. With its latest role as a visitor center, it will serve the public for years to come to educate travelers about the history and ecology of the Merced River Watershed.

The remodeling in progress:
The interior of one of the rooms is gutted down to support poles
Work in progress - empty rooms, walls need paint

The remodeled visitor center sports new flooring, new displays and a new counter
The inside with finished renovations, new paint, information brochures on a new display stand

- Dave Christy, 7/09

- BLM-California News.bytes, issue 393

Last updated: 07-29-2009