For one local businessman, fond childhood memories of the Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center have led to lending a professional helping hand.
Chattanooga general contracting company Collier Construction is in the process of repairing the eagle enclosure and creating an entirely new sanctuary for the recently arrived sandhill cranes-all pro bono.
“I grew up attending camps and volunteering at the Nature Center, so I know firsthand all the great programs and educational opportunities this organization makes available,” Ethan Collier, president and CEO of Collier Construction, said in a prepared statement.
Collier has carried on his family’s tradition of volunteering, keeping the business involved in Tennessee River Rescue for several years.
The cranes will reside at the Nature Center thanks to a long-term loan from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.
Though both members of the bonded pair-a male and a female-are 27 years old, the species is known to live up to 60 years in captivity. In the wild, their lifespan is estimated to reach 20 years or more.
“We are the only facility in the Chattanooga area that houses captive sandhill cranes,” Tish Gailmard, wildlife curator at the Nature Center, said in a prepared statement. “The only time they’re seen in the wild in our area is when they stop over the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge during their migration, so we’re really excited to offer our visitors such a unique, up-close experience year-round.”
The Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center is also home to southern flying squirrels, red wolves, several owl species, bald eagles, snakes and turtles and is the site of countless educational and summer camps.
Of the partnership with Collier Construction, Gailmard noted the vital “skills, equipment and manpower” the company brings to the project, the kind of necessary resources the center does not have at its disposal.
The initial phase of construction will include setting EPB-donated telephone poles. The second phase will involve the installation of fencing and netting to complete the enclosure.
The exhibit’s grand opening will be scheduled and announced after phase two is underway.