Rotary Nature Center to Reopen With Owl Pellet Dissection (and Jazz)

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The Rotary Nature Center closed in March, 2017 after more than 50 years. (Courtesy Community for Lake Merritt)

The nation's oldest official wildlife refuge, Lake Merritt has long been Oakland's center of civic life as well as a destination for urban naturalists. But its Rotary Nature Center, for more than 50 years a site of public programming, closed with little warning in March, 2017. This Saturday marks its anticipated reopening.

The event, which begins at 1pm, features various popup "exploration stations" focused on bird feet, owl pellets, pollinators, bugs and the bottom surface of Lake Merritt. According to Terry Smith, president of the nonprofit Community for Lake Merritt, it will also feature a live jazz combo and a brief ceremony.

The City of Oakland, which owns the nature center, has partnered with local organizations including Golden Gate Audubon Society and the Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants to restart programming, and hired a new lead naturalist, Smith said. It's expected to be regularly open to the public later in February.

Community for Lake Merritt has more information.