The original Nature Center at the Airport in the Sky was funded in 1981 by a generous donation from the Offield Foundation to delight, entertain and most importantly educate visitors, many of who have seen the Island from the air, but never had a chance to explore it for a closer look.
The outdoor exhibit on the west side of the Airport terminal, is one of the first things visitors who fly to the Island see when walking off the tarmac – presenting them a first look at the issues facing the Conservancy in Island conservation.
Following a refurbishment in 2008, new, colorful and easy-to-read panels, provide guests with up-to-date insights on the Island and the forces, both natural and man-made, that threaten its delicate ecology.
PURE Catalina Lending itself to the redesign of the Airport Nature Center is the PURE Catalina theme created for the new Nature Center at Avalon Canyon established on April 22, 2006. The “PURE” theme engages visitors in learning, exploring and becoming involved in the fulfillment of the mission of the Conservancy.”
“Protect” highlights species that are found on Catalina and nowhere else in the world, such as the Catalina Island fox, Catalina shrew, Catalina Mahogany and Saint Catherine’s lace.
“Understand” emphasizes the distribution and abundance of Catalina’s plant communities and wildlife populations, with a focus on the impacts of fire and overgrazing.
“Renew” gives visitors an idea of how the Conservancy is restoring endangered or threatened plants, wildlife and habitats.
“Explore” allows visitors to appreciate the Conservancy’s efforts to keep the Island’s interior a choice destination for tens of thousands of hikers, bikers, backpackers and young people every year, who have come to love the interior’s rugged beauty.
Other Exhibits Popular with visitors to the Nature Center is the Catalina history timeline featuring life-sized cutouts of the types of individuals who have inhabited the Island’s history from the original inhabitants, the Tongva from at least 6, 800 years ago; to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who discovered Catalina in 1542; to the cowboys, miners, and even a “bathing beauty” from the 1880’s when the Island first became a recreational haven for yachters and sports fishermen.
The awe-inspiring tile map of Catalina is a favorite of visitors to the Nature Center at the Airport in the Sky.
Check the signpost for direction to fun and adventure.
With a history dating back thousands of years, a wide cross section of people have called Catalina home.
Another popular exhibit is the inspiring, multi-dimensional mural by artist Eve Templeton’s of the Island’s native fauna. Depicted are a family of Catalina quail, sharing the same underbrush as a rattlesnake and a field mouse. As a bald eagle soars above, a grasshopper suns himself and a frog gains a foothold on an oak. Another eagle watches the proceedings from a safe perch while a woodpecker sets to work on a dead tree.
Of course, there is the awe-inspiring 40-foot long, and 28-foot wide tile map of Catalina, completed in 1989. The map was financed, created and manufactured by Marinero Board Member Bob Hood. Artwork was provided by San Pedro artist Nancy Grossman.
To make a donation in support of the Catalina Island Fox Program, note it on your check and mail it to: Catalina Island Conservancy, PO Box 2739, Avalon, CA 90704. Or specify your wishes and donate online.