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Jones Beach State Park to get $18M energy and nature education center

Lifeguards work to bring up a life boat

Lifeguards work to bring up a life boat at Jones Beach State Park last July.  Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Jones Beach State Park is getting an $18 million energy and nature education center, a public-private project aimed at encouraging visitors to respect the environment and use energy wisely, state officials said Friday.

Visitors will be able to use a variety of hands-on exhibits and programs to learn about Long Island's various ecosystems, conserving water and the economical use of energy, the officials said. Featured exhibits will highlight how electricity is generated and distributed, and how consumers can manage energy more efficiently.

"With over six million visitors to Jones Beach each year, the energy and nature center will provide an incredible opportunity to help people become better stewards of Long Island by better understanding the connections between energy and the environment," state Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said.

The energy and nature center is being funded by the state, PSEG Long Island, the Long Island Power Authority, New York Power Authority and private donors, officials said. 

The new center will replace the existing nature center at Jones Beach, which is about 20 years old and in need of renovation, said George Gorman, state parks deputy regional director. It is expected to open in the spring of 2020.

"This investment will continue to boost tourism across the region, while preserving our environment and encouraging visitors to support our state's resources," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

Besides the center, the state will designate 218½ acres of the park's west end as a preservation area. The designation will help maintain the ecology of the area, limit development to recreational uses such as fishing and hiking, and encourage scientific research, according to state officials.

PSEG President Dan Eichhorn said, "We are especially pleased to support this innovative project by bringing interactive educational programs to Long Island's youth, while preserving a beloved natural habitat."