Collier Construction broke ground at the Chattanooga Arboretum & Nature Center on Thursday, March 7. The local general contracting company has volunteered to repair the Nature Center's existing eagle enclosure and build a new enclosure for two sandhill cranes.
The Nature Center acquired the cranes through a long-term loan from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in September 2012.
The two are a bonded pair and are 27 years old. In captivity, they could live to be as old as 60.
"We are the only facility in the Chattanooga area that houses captive sandhill cranes," said Tish Gailmard, wildlife curator at the Nature Center. "The only time they're seen in the wild in our area is when they stop over at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge during their migration, so we're really excited to offer our visitors such a unique, up-close experience year-round."
Ethan Collier, president and CEO of Collier Construction, is a longtime supporter of the Nature Center and began volunteering there with his family at a young age. Mr. Collier and his team have continued their support over the years by participating in the Tennessee River Rescue, a program of the Nature Center. When it came to his attention that the Nature Center was in need of repairs, Mr. Collier knew he wanted to offer assistance.
"I grew up attending camps and volunteering at the Nature Center, so I know first-hand all the great programs and educational opportunities this organization makes available," Mr. Collier said. "I'm proud that my team and I have been able to help the Nature Center continue its mission."
According to Ms. Gailmard, community partners like Collier Construction are an indispensable resource to the organization.
"A contractor like Collier Construction brings a skillset, equipment, and manpower we don't have, so it's vital for us to have community support when we begin large projects like this one," Ms. Gailmard said. "We're here to serve this community, and we're so thankful for all our partners who help us make that happen."
Phase one of the construction process involved setting telephone poles donated by EPB, and fencing and netting will be installed during phase two. The enclosures are on schedule for completion early this spring. A grand opening date will be announced during the second phase of construction.