Have you visited Laguna Coast Wilderness Park’s Nix Nature Center?
In 2000, Leisure World residents Jim and Rosemary Nix pledged $500,000 to Laguna Canyon Foundation toward their dream of building a nature center in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Their dream became reality when the James and Rosemary Nix Nature Center opened in March 2007.
The “Nix,” as it is affectionately called, is located in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park’s Little Sycamore Canyon, at the heart of the 22,000-acre South Coast Wilderness center of parks and preserves, in the midst of 55 miles of trails, and just south of Barbara’s Lake. The 3,000 square foot center incorporates earth-friendly design elements like rammed-earth walls and use of natural lighting and ventilation.
Outside, visitors can find outdoor seating, interpretive panels, Laguna Canyon Foundation’s donor recognition banners, a painter’s pier, and a wheelchair accessible loop trail. Inside are interpretive exhibits with interactive displays, fossil-embedded rockwork, trail maps and bottled water for purchase, and more. Visitors can check out the daily Wildlife Sightings whiteboard and add their own sightings from the trail.
While LCF and OC Parks will always be grateful to the late Jim and Rosemary Nix for their generous contribution, construction of the nature center was a true partnership. A voter approve state park bond funded $1.5 million in construction costs. Private donations to LCF and state bond money contributed another $450,000, and the Orange County Parks Department contributed $750,000 to make the Nixes’ dream a reality.
In 2007, the center’s exhibits were awarded the National Association for Interpretation Award for Interpretive Media. Today, the Nix is still a “little gem hidden in the busy world we live in,” according to supervising ranger Matt Stegner. LCF volunteer Roxanna Bradley has volunteered at the Nix since 2007. She loves meeting and educating park visitors and sharing her love of the parks with others, as well as seeing all the creatures that live around and visit the Nix.
The Nix is located at 18751 Laguna Canyon Road, north of the 73, and is open from 9 am – 4 pm seven days a week. Admission is free – just $3 for parking. Check it out!