Thriving Wildlife Preserve Honors its Legacy of Nuclear Activity and Plans for the Future
A former Cold War-era nuclear weapons facility looks toward the future to serve the environment and the community by telling its inspiring story, from contaminated assembly lines to protected ecosystems.
From production to preservation, the U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Management’s Fernald Preserve, a former Cold War-era uranium processing plant, is now bursting with new life as a nature preserve, providing habitat to hundreds of native and migratory wildlife species, including over 250 species of birds. In the late 1980’s, the Fernald Feed Materials Production Center began its remarkable transformation as one of the EPA’s largest Brownfield Superfund cleanups, totaling an investment of $4.4 billion. The site today provides 1,050 acres of crucial protected natural habitat and public parkland including restored wetlands, open water, forests and prairies. In addition to providing sanctuary for native and rare wildlife species, Fernald Preserve is a space for avid birdwatchers, community organizations, school groups, environmentalists and nature enthusiasts.
Top Image: Figure 1: At least 250 species of native and migratory birds have been observed at Fernald since the restoration.
In 2002, after completing environmental remediation and ecological restoration, Fernald Preserve worked with the community to create a master plan that guided the revitalization of the site as an environmental and community asset. Now in this new era as a thriving nature preserve, the mission of Fernald Preserve focuses on public health, environment, sustainability and community in creating a lush landscape and habitat, expansive public park, and LEED-Platinum Certified education center. Last year, MKSK worked with site staff, the US Department of Energy and the community to plan for the future of the preserve in the 2019 Master Plan Update. The process revealed that the community wanted to celebrate the story of Fernald, expand walking trails and add more visitor amenities such as benches and observation points, all of which are currently being advanced.
As a result of the master plan update, MKSK is now working with Fernald Preserve, the US Department of Energy, and environmental graphics and brand experience firm Kolar Design, to develop an interactive tool for visitors to explore the landscape and its compelling history. The future of Fernald will curate an impactful and memorable visitor experience that praises this national success story: a celebration of a monumental 30-year effort that is reviving a former nuclear weapons complex as a champion for the environment and a valuable regional community destination.