GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Construction crews are clearing the land at the site of the former nature center at Huntington Beach State Park while the community gathers behind building a new one.
Park manager, Brenda Magers said while the last couple of months have been tough as staff have coped with the loss of the animals in a fire that destroyed the nature center, they are one step closer to seeing a new center in the park.
"Some of them were not releasable, so they had been in captivity for even 20 years," Magers said. "So that's just difficult to go through. And as you get through that day - I mean that was a hard day - so as you get through that day, then it's time to start ticking forward. Some days it's a short tick and some days you make big progress."
This week, progress is exactly what the park saw.
"They finished clearing the site, so all of the debris from the fire has been removed and now we are sort of looking at whether or not that's the best place to build a new building, and looking at some designing of a new building," Magers said.
Though the education programs remain strong at the park, Magers said a building is what they need.
"To be able to reliably show someone a specific animal and talk about it, that's something we will gain when we get the new nature center," she said. "It will really ground our educational resources."
What has been made clear is the surrounding community wants to see the building go up just as much.
"It was such a random and such a tragic occurrence, and it's something that you would never expect to wake up to, that sort of news in the morning," said Josh Quigley, a managing partner of BisQit in Pawleys Island. "But the community is rallying behind it and trying to put it back together."
On Monday, Sept. 19, BisQit customers, whether they know it or not, will help to make the new nature center a reality.
"Anyone who walks in the door, 10 percent of that tab will be given to the organization," Quigley said.
These donations are something park staff cannot help but feel humbled by.
"Sometimes it just kind of blows me away that people are still thinking about us, they still care about us and they are still looking forward to the new nature center," Magers said.
Then, on Sept. 26, the Black River Outdoor center will offer guided kayak tours and 100 percent of the registration fees will go towards the new center, followed by a second Paint and Unwined event on Oct. 21, where the painting will be a fish that was once a part of the nature center.
All donations will go toward what goes into the nature center including animal exhibits, aquariums and tanks.