in the news (7)

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january 2015 | by gidget price | show project

We just recently finished up a project in the Spring Mountains of Nevada. Nearing the end of the fabrication process, our lead fabricator came to me with an urgent request to find some large bolts, equivalent to the size of a lag bolt. Normally, we order all vandal-proof hardware which requires special driver. The typical profile is a star or hex with a central pin.

I went to our normal supplier. Given the size of the bolts, these turned out to be a specialty item and it would take a few weeks to get them to us. We needed them… like yesterday. Onward to another supplier. This supplier had them in stock but for the price of 15 bolts, was pretty close to $550. We were like "ouch" that’s not reasonable.

As I went back to our fabricator and discussed the difficulties I was having finding these particular bolts. He informed me that the bolts would be placed at the very top of the structure, 20 feet off the ground! In that case, we wouldn’t need to have the tamper proof bolts! I am glad I asked! So off I went to find these massive bolts without the center pin. I went back to our original supplier—they were in stock and we could have them the next day. Oh wait, better yet, guess the price? Less than $100. Only difference was the pin.

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december 2014 | by linda repplinger | show project

How many different kinds of bats do you think fly over our heads at night? I was amazed to learn that at least seventeen bat species could be found in the Spring Mountains, and thirteen are regulars to the McWilliams Campground. While designing bat themed exhibits for the campground, I learned how unique each species really is.

A dark color palette and a background of starry skies set the exhibits’ atmosphere. One exhibit introduces all the species in the style of a team roster with portraits, size, weight, flight characteristics, calls, what they eat, where they roost, and their range. Each species also is shown at full-size flying throughout the exhibits with easy-to-read labels color-coded to the roster.

Other exhibits describe bats’ amazing capabilities for flight and communication, roosting habitats, how and why bats are researched, and why bats are important to the ecosystem and to people.

When visitors look up they see life-sized bats flying above their heads, silhouetted against the sky. This effect is achieved with a mobile, which has metal cutout bats on the ends of long arms that move in the wind. Campers can now call out "to the bat mobile!"

Visitors can also experience what it is like to be a bark roosting bat in the "bat squeeze." The bat squeeze is made up of two rounded exhibits of tree bark that taper at one end to accommodate for various ages and sizes of people.

One final note: When the exhibits were being loaded on the truck to ship to Nevada, a bat flew out from the truck and over our heads, across the blue sky—we’ll take this as a good omen

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november 2014 | by susan jurasz | show project

Finishing a big project is bitter sweet. After eight years, we are crossing the finish line. I am surprised at how emotional I feel. Since we started, there are only a few of us that can say we were here from start. Most people have come and gone. And here we are, finessing the last bolt, sweeping the concrete dust from the holes we drill, putting the finishing touches on exhibits that are as much of works of art as they are educational exhibits. Our faces are rosy from the wind and sun exposure in the Spring Mountains above Las Vegas. Our hearts, full of the joy we feel in a job well done, and our minds already searching for the next challenging task ahead of us.

This has been an amazing opportunity and we have loved it.

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july 2014 | by susan jurasz | show project

Walk with a member of the Nuwuvi in their sacred place of beginning: the Spring Mountains. If you listen for what they hear, look for what they see, and try to understand what they know, you will experience an awakening to the world around you.

Deep in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, at the base of Catherdral Rock, is a large picnic area. Within it stands a cluster of steel sculptures - a man with a drum, a child collecitng pine nuts, and a woman gathering medicinal herbs in a basket. Contrasting with the weathering steel, engraved bronze plates share the Nuwuvi's perspective. Exhibit panels and interactive displays illuminate these people's daily interaction with their homeland.

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december 2013 | by susan jurasz | show project

At Desert View, visitors don't just look over any desert. They look out over THE desert. The desert which witnessed and endured the testing of atomic weaponry. These moments changed the history of our country and brought the entire world into a new "technological" era - the atomic age.

The success or failure of these exhibits depended as much upon adapting to the landscape as it did the interpretation. The walkway from parking lot to final presentation cul-de-sac took advantage of a striking change in elevation. This in turn generated a series of hairpin turns on the walkway. Signage found placement en-route to the two cul-de-sac arenas that were created for the "longer story" interpretive presentations.

The viewing circles at the cul-de-sacs presented an interesting design and assembly challenge, one that we came to see as a "curve on a curve on a slope." The shape of the panels imitated the arc of the circular pad. The angle of each sign had to be placed so that each one was shaped like a flower petal that is tapered, having a wider top than base. The fact that the cement pad itself requires a slope allowing for drainage created a difficult challenge during installation but ultimately provided the perfect setup to juxtapose the natural beauty of the scenery and created a stunning spot to reflect on our national past.

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january 2013 | by megan whitaker | show project

Obituaries and interpretive exhibits don't have an immediate connection, but for me, a newspaper obituary can represent the turning point in my quest to find images for an exhibit. At the newly renovated Mahogany Grove Group Campground in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area each campsite is being named after a person notable in the development of the area. And my current quest is to find photos of a gentleman called B.V. Smith.

I begin my search with nothing more than B.V. Smith-not even a first name! I become the Nancy Drew of obituaries, census records, and Fortunately, I knew that he lived in the Las Vegas/Mt. Charleston area during the 1930s. After days of combing the internet, I began to piece together a family tree. Phone calls and messages go out to prospective living family members explaining why I needed to speak with them about their grandfather. Imagine my surprise when I found his granddaughter lives just 20 miles away from me in McMinnville, Oregon and has photos I can scan. The family of Benton Van Buron Smith is pleased to discover that their grandfather is being honored for his contribution to the Mt. Charleston area.

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september 2012 | by heather julius | show project

I take it easy on our first day of hiking; I stop to rest when I feel slightly dizzy and my heart pounds as if I'm sprinting at top speed, though I'm only shuffling feebly up a small hill. Our home base for our research trip in the Spring Mountains is Mt. Charleston Lodge: 7,717 feet above sea level, just a few feet from the Cathedral Rock trailhead where you can ascend for panoramic views of Kyle Canyon.

Surrounded by Ponderosa pines, I do not think of the sea. But some of the rocks we are surrounded by started out far away in a shallow coastal sea on the westward rim of north America. It's still a shock to discover rocks with fossilized coral at our feet, so high in the mountains, in this dry region where a splash of water on skin dries almost instantly.

It becomes a game then for the four of us, we exclaim with each lucky find and share and compare. We photograph each rock for posterity and add our finds to a pile that will be encased in a wall for visitors to view.

It is only later when I try to date our fossils finds that I begin to appreciate how truly ancient our rocks are. They can be no younger than about 250 million years old and it is quite possible that they are quite a bit older than that.