Clearing begins for a new visitor center and regional headquarters at Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo by Heather Rosselli / May 14, 2010)

Heather Rosselli of Oceanside was passing the  Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley and took this shot of construction vehicles clearing land on Smith Road.

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Turns out, Heather, that’s your federal stimulus money at work.

Work started May 10 on a $9.7-million, 17,000-square-foot visitor center with offices for the  regional headquarters of wildlife refuges. Wildlife refuge staff will move in when the project is completed next year.

The center will be powered by solar panels and equipped with geothermal heating. No fossil fuels will be used to heat or cool the facility, said refuge manager Michelle Williams.

The project, which includes a 4,000-square-foot exhibit hall, will enable year-round educational programs, workshops and interpretive exhibits.