The Manitoba government is providing a matching contribution of up to $1.5 million to support wetland education and conservation through a campaign to renovate the award-winning Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre.

“Oak Hammock Marsh is recognized as a wetland of international importance and its interpretive centre helps visitors to better understand why, while bringing wildlife and people together,” said Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Blaine Pedersen. “We’re pleased to support the capital campaign to renovate the centre, to ensure Manitobans and visitors from around the world can continue to connect with nature, enjoy and respect Manitoba’s wild areas and learn why we all depend on wetlands.”

The minister announced Manitoba’s contribution at Ducks Unlimited Canada’s 24th annual Minister’s Dinner yesterday. The fundraising event brings together more than 230 people in support of the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre and its wetland education programs. The province has committed to $1.5 million in matching funds if $3 million is raised in support of the interpretive centre project. This funding is in addition to the $225,000 in annual operating funding the interpretive centre receives from the Manitoba government.

Upgrades to the interpretive centre will be guided by a comprehensive plan that re-imagines the space. Renovations and enhancements will focus on creatively and strategically highlighting the natural surroundings while leveraging innovative and interactive educational tools.

“The opportunity to enhance our space and visitor experience is exciting,” says Karla Guyn, CEO for Ducks Unlimited Canada. “Since the interpretive centre was built more than 25 years ago, it has provided students and visitors with unique ways to learn about the natural world. We look forward to finding new ways of connecting people with wetlands within an updated facility.”

Open year-round, the interpretive centre is used by school groups and tourists and offers a variety of guided programs. It also features a theatre, a scenic cafe, a gift shop, meeting rooms, rooftop observation deck and interactive exhibits.

Spearheaded by Harry Enns, former minister of natural resources, and Claude Wilson, former president of Ducks Unlimited Canada, the interpretive centre first opened its doors in 1993. Since then, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Manitoba government have worked together to manage the interpretive centre.

Located east of Stonewall, Oak Hammock Marsh is a 36-square-kilometre marsh that features a restored prairie marsh, aspen-oak bluff, artesian springs and some of Manitoba’s last remaining patches of tall-grass prairie. Its interpretive centre welcomes close to 100,000 students, tourists and environmental professionals annually who can explore 30 kilometres of trails and lush natural habitat that is home to 25 species of mammals, 300 species of birds, numerous amphibians, reptiles, fish and invertebrates.