The idea of an interpretive center for the Hanford Reach and the Mid-Columbia Basin had been kicking around for a long time and been through a series of fits and starts of work for the better part of a decade. But the fruition of all that time and work is finally here—The Reach, as we locals like to call it, opened July 4th. The exhibits are in place, state-of-the-art electronics installed, landscaping completed, and public events planned. Trails have been laid, complete with high school students installing interpretive displays. The massive fish tank for native species is alive with fish. There are still some tweaks to be done and some bugs to be squashed, but we've made it to the end—sort of.
This is just the first phase, focusing on the preservation of the Reach and the land itself. While there are some nods to the Manhattan Project, the Cold War and the area as we know and live it today, future construction will provide the full telling of these and other stories. We can’t wait.
Why is the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service so enthusiastic about The Reach? Well, apart from telling about the Hanford Reach National Monument and the resources we manage, we've been a partner in this project from the very beginning. While there is a fair amount of money in this project, we have also provided thousands of hours to writing, editing, fact checking, field trips, providing exhibit materials, tracking down photographs, meetings, and all the other elements that go into creating a world-class museum. If it's possible, we might be even prouder of The Reach than the staff there, although that's probably not possible.
So, we hope you make plans to visit The Reach—again and again and again. So many stories to tell, so much to learn, so little chance you'll discover everything with one, two, or any number of visits, especially with numerous ever-changing displays. We'll see you there.
To visit the official web site of The Reach, FOLLOW THIS LINK.
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Once a national wildlife refuge itself, Saddle Mountain National Wildlife Refuge still exists, but as part of the much larger Hanford Reach National Monument.