Don’t let the cold and dreary days of winter keep you homebound. Bundle up and spend some time outdoors on the trails and visiting the wildlife display at Fontana Park. Take a break to warm up in the nature center and check out the new exhibits.

In the turtle habitat corner, upgrades are in place allowing visitors to view the turtles as they swim underwater. The turtles love the added water depth for freedom of movement, the landing as a place to dry off while maintaining a quick getaway, and the terrestrial portion of the display in which to dig. While the exhibit is still designed to allow visitors to touch and interact with the turtles, it provides the turtles additional opportunities to maintain aspect of their natural habitat.

Photo provided by Fontana Interpretive Center

Watersheds and water quality have been hot button issues recently, but many people are only vaguely aware of their role in their own watershed or even what that watershed is. Friends of Fontana Park funds were recently used to acquire an augmented reality sandbox that will allow visitors to interact with a model watershed. They look forward to using this exhibit for educational programming as well as having it available for nature center visitors.

Finally, in this start of nesting season for Iowa Owls, visitors can learn some of the many amazing adaptations of owls. Then get back outside, stop to say hello to their resident barred owl, knowing how far he can turn his head, enjoy the frozen lake and waterfall of the Otter Creek watershed with a better idea of where that water comes from and goes to, and imagine the warm spring days to come when turtles will dot the logs of the lake.

Fontana Interpretive Nature Center is located at 1883 125th St, Hazleton, IA. Nature Center Winter hours are: Mon-Tues 8 am – noon; Wed-Fri 8-noon & 1-4:30 pm and weekends 1-4 pm. For more information on Fontana, the nature center, programs, cabins or other amenities, visit buchanancountyparks.com