Four years after the visitor center at the Bristlecone Pine Forest was burned to the ground, the U.S. Forest Service is inviting the public to celebrate the grand opening of a new, state-of-the-art center next month. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service
Visitors hoping to see some of the oldest living plants on the planet now have a brand-new visitor center to welcome them and introduce them to the Bristlecone Pine Forest.
Inyo National Forest Supervisor Ed Armenta announced last week that the long-anticipated opening of the new Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center has been scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 1.
A grand opening celebration is slated to take place at Schulman Grove with music starting at 1 p.m. and the formal ceremony at 2 p.m.
The celebration will include music by the Idle Hands String Band, guest speakers, a Paiute blessing, an art exhibit, a ribbon cutting and much more.
The Forest Service has also scheduled interpretive programs and patio talks throughout the day.
The original Bristlecone Visitor Center was burned to the ground by an arsonist in September of 2008.
Forest Ranger John Louth said in a previous interview that the bulk of the $1.9 million for the new center was made possible through Forest Service capitol improvement project funds. However, he said it was due to the generous donations from the local community and various organizations that made the federal funding agents â€śtake notice.â€ť
â€śThe local contributions were a huge help. It acted as a kind of seed-money grant,â€ť Louth said during the height of fundraising efforts in 2010.
The new, state-of-the-art facility is entirely solar powered and includes a small theatre, exhibits, what the Forest Service is calling â€śstunningâ€ť architecture and a new bookstore run by the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association.
The visitor center is in the same location as the previous facility and is fully handicapped accessible.
â€śThe grand opening celebration is bound to be an enjoyable event for visitors and locals alike, many of whom have donated to and supported the reconstruction effort,â€ť a press release from the Forest Service states.
Those planning on attending the grand opening are urged to carpool with friends and neighbors as parking will be limited.
Additional information on the grand opening can be found at the Inyo National Forest website, www.fs.usda.gov/inyo, or by calling John Louth at (760) 873-2577.