Opal Creek Forest Center, an educational nonprofit organization teamed with Portland General Electric to build this new classroom and laboratory in the middle of the historic Opal Creek Wilderness.
Solar panels were installed on Earth Day in April bringing the project to completion. The energy will power the entire building, including the microscopes and projectors that outfit the laboratory. The panels also will feed into a battery capable of storing the extra energy and distributing it to any of the facilities at the Forest Center.
PGE provided the $40,000 funding for the panels as well as contributing a supplementary micro-hydro system to allow more power to be generated in the summer when water pressure is at its lowest. This will enhance the existing system, which derives its hydropower from nearby Flume Creek.
Forest Center spokesperson Ali Jackiw is enthusiastic about the new facility.
“This project is exciting and will enrich our programs. Up until now, we haven’t had a viable indoor space in which to work,” Jackiw said.
The Forest Center provides outdoor education programs for schools and in 2006 they served over 1,000 students from all across Oregon. They hold workshops on the weekends during the summer covering topics such as forest ecology, Opal Creek geology and trail maintenance. They also provide affordable lodging and interpretive hikes.
For more information contact Ali Jackiw at the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center, (503) 892-2782.