Help The Nature Center!


On April 2nd, we learned that the City of Asheville proposed potentially closing the WNC Nature Center, along with a number of other city resources and programs, to balance the city budget. The Friends of the WNC Nature Center has received an outpouring of support and many residents reached out to City Council with their concerns.

The City of Asheville is now (as of the end of April) proposing to keep the Center open through fiscal year 2014 with increased support from the Friends of the WNC Nature Center.

The City and Friends can now continue the efforts to fulfill the promise of the City’s 2020 Vision for the WNC Nature Center. Adopted in 2011, the 2020 Vision for the Future outlines a strategic business plan for improvements and additions to the Nature Center.  The City and Friends have worked together to secure funding for projects identified in Phase 1 of the site plan, and visitors to the Nature Center will soon enjoy a new play experience and several exhibit enhancements. The 2020 Vision also includes initiatives to alleviate demands on the City of Asheville budget to operate the Center and to reconfigure the Center into a public/private partnership.  Your support is an essential ingredient in the continued success of one of our city and region's most important assets. Here are several ways you can help:


More details on ways to help are at the bottom of this page


Is the WNC Nature Center going to close?

We will work tirelessly to ensure that the Center does not close. We promise.

The Western North Carolina Nature Center is fortunate to have an entire nonprofit organization that is committed to raising money to support the mission of the Center. The Friends of the WNC Nature Center has existed since 1974 to raise money to create awareness and provide financial resources, through fundraising and events, in support of the Nature Center. The Friends, thanks to the support of members and donors, have been in partnership with the City of Asheville to implement several steps outlined within the City commissioned plan for the WNC Nature Center, the 2020 Vision, that recommends a transition of the Center to a public/private partnership.

The success of the 2020 Vision does depend on visitors, volunteers, membership, corporate friends, sponsors, grantors, and the Wild Visions Society to accomplish this goal. The City with Friends support has been moving forward with plans this summer to open the new playground, Arachnid Adventure, as well as two new exhibits in Appalachian Station. Watch the powerpoint presentation at the link above to learn more about what is in store for the WNC Nature Center in years to come.


Is a public/private partnership an option for the WNC Nature Center?

A public/private partnership is a viable option for the WNC Nature Center and has been investigated at length by both the City of Asheville and the Friends. Many cities across the country have made tough economic decisions about operating their local zoos while still providing taxpayers the services they require. A public/private partnership is the best solution. However, it is important to note that zoos always rely on public funding dollars in addition to private support.


What about the new children’s playground and the exhibit updates slated for Summer 2013?

Construction of the new playground, Arachnid Adventure, is still underway and should open this summer on schedule. In addition, we expect the Center to open the two newest exhibits, an improved eastern hellbender exhibit and black ant exhibit, in Appalachian Station later this summer. Funds for these projects were raised by the Friends of the WNC Nature Center and do not have any effect on city resident taxes or require any funding from the city budget.


The Playground

The new Arachnid Adventure playground will feature spider themed play elements such as climbing and crawl through webs and a new rain garden area. The playground will also serve as a gateway to a new fully accessible natural path up to our red wolf exhibit.  Along the way, play elements such as a climb through log and themed sculpture will surprise guests.  Once at the red wolf exhibit, new unobstructed viewing areas will afford the best view possible of our highly endangered red wolf pack. Interpretive elements will bring the story of the red wolf alive for guests.


Exhibit Updates

One area will include a new state-of-the-art modular exhibit for black ants. Variance Exhibits, an invertebrate exhibit company widely used throughout the Zoo and Aquarium industry, would fabricate this exhibit. Variance exhibits are all furnished with the needed life support systems built-in and provide an attractive, modern exhibit that can be easily moved in and out of place for maintenance and cleaning. In addition, there will be interactive elements, such as a close-up camera in the exhibit that allows visitors and schoolchildren further access into the world of these incredible arthropods.

The other addition is a nine foot long, 150-gallon aquarium exhibit capable of housing an adult hellbender. Included in the installation of the exhibit would be the chiller unit, bubble screen air flow unit, and all filtration equipment. The exhibit will expand viewing opportunities for guests for this endangered and important stream health indicator species.


What can I do to Support the Center?

There are a number of ways to help the Nature  Center. These include:

  • Buy a ticket to attend Mountain Safari - the annual fundraiser for the Center on June 8th
  • Make a tax-deductible donation to the Friends of the WNC Nature Center
  • Educate yourself and others about the City of Asheville's 2020 Vision plan for the Center
  • Stay informed by following the Friends on social media- Facebook, Twitter,and YouTube and share this information with your friends and contacts
  • Purchase or renew your membership
  • Volunteer at the Center or at the Friends office
  • Provide financial support through our existing giving programs like Adopt-An-Animal or Buy-A-Brick


Graphic Design: Lynch Graphics | Site Development and Programming: Central 183 HD