It’s the most expensive of the nearly 100 Recovery Act-funded projects in the Southwest Region, and, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, arguably the most important. “It” is the new Texas-Chenier Administration Building and Visitor’s Center, located an hour outside of Houston, whose completion marks the culmination of a long process to unite the administration of four refuges in Southeast Texas. The facility’s Visitor’s Center is expected to become one of the most visited in the country.
Constructed at a cost of over $4 million, the new Southeast Texas Service Visitor’s Center is the culmination of plans that have been underway for over 20 years, but got a shot in the arm, so to speak, when the service’s old facility was destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008. In recognition of the service’s help during the hurricane, Chambers County donated the land for the new facility, on scenic Lake Anahuac.
The Texas-Chenier Plains Complex Visitor’s Center and Administration building will double as the headquarters for Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge (which had been housed in a cramped, inadequate building in downtown Anahuac). The facility was designed with Silver certification in mind from the U.S. Green Building Council, but, according to the Anahuac Progress, has taken LEED Gold.
The service has educated more than 1,500 school children on local plants and animals through the Anhauac National Wildlife Rufuge’s old visitor’s center. The new visitor’s center, which offers tours of the nearby marsh areas, provides a larger community education center in closer proximity to the metropolitan Houston area, which the Service believes will help to get even more kids into into its outdoor education program.