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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 12, 2010

Contact:
Sarah Marquis
949-300-1322

NOAA Sanctuary Exploration Center
Breaks Ground in Santa Cruz

Officials from NOAA Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the City of Santa Cruz broke ground Monday, July 12 on the Sanctuary Exploration Center. Located in Santa Cruz' famed beach area at the corner of Pacific Ave. and Beach Street, the more than 12,000 square foot center will function as the sanctuary's premier interactive interpretive facility.

Santa Cruz junior lifeguards cheer the new Sanctuary Exploration Center
Santa Cruz junior lifeguards cheer the new Sanctuary Exploration Center.
"The Sanctuary Exploration Center will encourage visitors to explore the marine environment and issues impacting the sanctuary," said Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Paul Michel. "The experience will personalize the vital role of protecting one of the nation's most ecologically significant and stunning underwater treasures."

NOAA Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the City of Santa Cruz and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation are collaborating in a public-private partnership to design, construct and furnish the Sanctuary Exploration Center. Over the last five years, the city has served a lead project management role with respect to the design, permitting and construction of the Sanctuary Exploration Center on behalf of NOAA and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Funding for construction of the project has been raised though federal grants awarded to the city.

Roaring Camp train stopped for the event and greeted officials
Roaring Camp train stopped for the event and greeted officials.
"The Sanctuary Exploration Center will provide a valuable community resource for the city in addition to serving as a local and regional draw to our magnificent beach front area," said Santa Cruz City Mayor Mike Rotkin. "Our partnership with Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary has allowed us to highlight our rich and diverse marine environment in the context of values that are important to our community."

The site was chosen after the sanctuary, working in conjunction with AMS Planning and Research, studied 23 locations along California's central coast. Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council reviewed the findings and recommended locating the Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz in partnership with the city on the 3/4-acre city-owned property.

The center will be located within a district rich in visitor-oriented facilities and recreational attractions, including the Santa Cruz Wharf, the world-famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Steamers Lane, Depot Park, and Lighthouse Point. An estimated 3.5 million people per year visit this area.

NOAA's Dr. Larry Robinson
NOAA's Dr. Larry Robinson.
Construction will begin in fall of 2010, with completion projected for winter of 2011. THA Architects of Portland have designed the center to certification standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and precise requirements of sustainable design elements and practices. Plans for the center call for exhibits, classroom, administrative space and a gift shop.

"Our community is bound together by a deep appreciation and love for the wonders of the ocean and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary," said Fred Keeley, Chairman of the Sanctuary Exploration Center Leadership Committee. "As we break ground for the construction of this wonderful facility, we are also launching the "Get In" campaign to raise the remainder of the funds for modern, exciting exhibits."

Hardhats/shovels ready for the ceremony
Hardhats/shovels ready for the ceremony.
The Sanctuary Exploration Center Leadership Committee, comprised of community leaders, and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation are coordinating a capital campaign to raise $3 million in funding for educational exhibits. To date, $1.6 million has been raised in the campaign.

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary stretches along the central California coast and encompasses more than 6,094 square miles of ocean area. Renowned for its scenic beauty and remarkable productivity, the sanctuary protects one of the world's most diverse ecosystems.

NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov.

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