50 Acres of East Fairmount Park to Reopen to Public After Years of Being Fenced Off

The land comes complete with a giant 37-acre lake, trails and lots of migratory birds.
Photo via Fairmount Park Conservancy

Fairmount Park | Photo via Fairmount Park Conservancy

Remember back when Emily, our fearless Be Well Philly leader, rappelled down 31 stories in the middle of Center City one weekday afternoon? Yes: 31 stories. Well, she did it for the experience, but the other 100 folks making their way down the building like Spiderman did it to raise money for Outward Bound. And when Emily chatted with the folks from Outward Bound about what they had coming coming down the pike, they mentioned the awesome Discovery Center — complete with an out-of-this-world high ropes course — they were at the tail-end of fundraising upward of $16 million for, to be built in the East Park section of Fairmount Park, by Strawberry Mansion.

And now fundraising is done, and it isn’t just the students of Outward Bound who will benefit: Mayor Nutter announced the plans to build the education-based Discovery Center, a partnership between Outward Bound and the Audubon Society, yesterday, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports. And once the Discovery Center is completed, hopefully by the summer of 2017, Philly residents, along with students getting their outdoor education on at the center, will have access to 50 acres of land that’s been fenced off since 1970, including trails (hey, runners!) and a giant reservoir-turned-lake surrounded by wildlife and migratory birds. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

As PhillyVoice reports, “Local neighbors worked closely with Outward Bound Schools and the National Audubon Society to make sure that area residents will be able to utilize the new park space, as well as the Discovery Center and its amenities.” Who else is clapping at the thought of new city trails to trek through? And if you prefer to stand and watch nature, rather than trek through it, you’ll be able to do plenty of that, too. According to the Journal, there will be a bevy of bird-watching platforms — where you can catch over 130 species of birds flying by — scattered throughout the land. Oh! And did I mention the canoe launching pad? Excuse me while I let out some totally nerdy squeals at my desk.

You can learn more about the Discovery Center, and what other big plans Outward Bound and the Audubon Society have for the space here.

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