Progress on the Kernville Environmental Education Park has been delayed due to storm damage

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Kernville, California (KERO) – “Is this the Kern River or the Kern Sea?”

Gary Ananian, founder and CEO of the Kern River Conservancy, had his plans for Kern County’s first environmental education park thrown out of schedule by this year’s winter storms.

“It was unbelievable the amount of water that fell and the force of the water,” Ananian said. “We were just sitting there listening to car-sized rocks grinding. It was crazy.

Storm damage in Kernville has delayed plans for the park, and the preserve hopes the community can help them get those plans back on track as soon as possible.

Gary Ananian

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Gary Ananian, Executive Director, Kern River Conservancy

Ananyan, a resident of Kernville, had been thinking about how to use the plot of land next to the river for years. Before the storms come, he remembers what a piece of land used to look like.

“That’s a dirt road that ran inland, and it was a big grassy meadow,” Ananian said.

That description is no longer the case, and even residents are shocked at the extent of the damage.

Michelle Vertress walks her dogs in the area a lot.

“Beautiful and smooth, and there were some great tracks here, and yeah, that’s pretty bad,” said Vertrez.

Michel'S Paragraphs

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Michelle Vertress, a resident of Kernville

Bad enough that Fairtrees says she had to detour because the path was impassable.

Before the storms hit, Ananian was awarded a $25,000 grant to make the Garden of Environmental Education a reality. The park was scheduled to open in June and will include a three-quarter-mile nature walk, botanical gardens, an amphitheater for teachers to host classes here, and signs with QR code links for educational environmental videos.

The park should have required a minimal amount of work since the reserve didn’t need to do any heavy construction, Ananian says, but now that plans have changed, the schedule has fallen behind.

“This is a big project now. We need to raise $15,000 to $20,000. We need to hire contractors. We need heavy equipment to go in and remove the debris, which is about 10 feet high,” Ananian said.

If the Kern River Conservancy can raise the necessary funds, they hope to finish the park in the last two months of the year, but the clock is also ticking to get the work done before wildfire season.

Ashley Whitaker Kern River Reserve

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Ashley Whitaker, Communications Coordinator, Kern River Conservancy

“When it’s here, like 100 degrees, everything will be a lightning bolt box. It will be a massive fire hazard,” Ananian said.

That’s why, according to communications coordinator Ashley Whitaker, the Kern River Conservancy is putting together several volunteer events and donation opportunities during GiveBigKern on May 2.

“It’s the first opportunity we’ve had to really assess the situation and get people out here, and then we’ll just continue that momentum and, as we said, with the GiveBigKern effort, hopefully we can ramp up enough to make this place look nice again,” Whittaker said.

One of those volunteer events will take place on Saturday, April 22, to coincide with Earth Day. The event is open to volunteers of all ages, and begins at 9:30 am. If you can’t get to the volunteer events but would still like to help, you can visit Kern River Conservancy Web site To make a financial donation.

Michelle Ventress Is A Dog Walker

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Kernville resident Michelle Ventress walks her dogs through the park in Kernville regularly and says recent storms have left quite a mess behind.