Nature Center

It’s only natural

EXPLORING NATURE Much of the Chico Creek Nature Center’s work involves teaching kids about the natural world.

EXPLORING NATURE Much of the Chico Creek Nature Center’s work involves teaching kids about the natural world.

Photo By Tom Angel

The city of Chico takes great pride in conserving land that has been home to thousands of species of animals for thousands of years. The Chico Creek Nature Center helps to ensure that these principles remain for generations to come.Opened in 1982 and made independent in 1996, the center is located in Bidwell Park, which is said to be the third-largest city park in the country. The Chico Creek Nature Center educates both children and adults about their natural surroundings, but most of all it’s just plain fun. For those just hoping to experience Mother Nature’s community of creatures in Butte County, tours and exhibits are planned throughout the year.

The center operates as a nonprofit organization, and, with the help of Executive Director Tom Haithcock along with many trained volunteers, it is a natural-history museum, nature center and information center for Bidwell Park.

The nature center offers educational programs for students, weekend hikes, birthday parties and nature activities for the public. Interactive wildlife exhibits as well as winter, spring, and summer day camps for kids are a way to educate wildlife enthusiasts in how nature plays such a major role in the lifestyle that we enjoy in Butte County. A living animal museum is one of the more interesting attractions that the center has to offer. Spectators are able to view the variety of animals that call Bidwell Park home.

A WORLD BEHIND GLASS The terrariums at Chico Creek Nature Center house a variety of reptiles and other creatures that inhabit the local environment.

Photo By Tom Angel

Other services include university internships and diverse volunteer programs open to anyone willing to pay tribute to the natural landscape that attracted people to this area centuries ago.

The Chico Creek Nature Center works with schools all around the Butte County area in order to set up field trips and exhibits for young students. Field trip programs are offered Tuesday through Friday, and prices range from $35 for a half-hour to $85 for an hour and one-half. It also provides a “Meet the Animals” program in which a naturalist comes to a school. The Chico Creek Nature Center’s Environmental Education programs are consistent with the science framework for California public schools.

Through spring 2005 there is an educational exhibit titled “Diversity Endangered.” This is an enlightening opportunity to examine how it has come about that there are an estimated 30 million species of animals that have inhabited the world we live in, yet we are aware of only some 1.7 million. It examines the causes, consequences and potential solutions to this loss of biological diversity in our world. The exhibit was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation and is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Ranging from $15 for seniors and students to $500 and $1,000 for a lifetime, memberships are a way to help support the various programs the nature center provides throughout Butte County, including free maps and information, the living-animal museum, free exhibitions and hikes, the Alice Hecker Native Plant Garden and Fresh Water Pond and the low-fee day camps and programs that are provided throughout the year. All membership levels receive a seasonal newsletter and calendar of events mailed to your home or business and discounts on CCNC camp programs.

The CCNC is a fun and educational experience for the whole family and can be a way to illustrate to children, as well as adults, the importance of preserving the environment we so often take for granted.

Donations to the CCNC are always welcome and can be made to the Chico Creek Nature Center, 1968 E. 8th St., Chico, CA 95928. For more information on memberships or donations please call 891-4671 or e-mail