The Hobcaw Barony Discovery Center (HBDC) renovation and addition started as a plan to update and increase the existing exhibit area, provide classroom and laboratory educational spaces, and house the education staff of the North Inlet NERR and Baruch Foundation. The Centralized Data Management Office of the National Estuarine Research Reserves will also be located at the HBDC.
The official groundbreaking for the HBDC took place on August 11, 2008.
The current HBDC building was kept fully operational until November 1, after which the building interior was demolished to make space for approximately 1,800 square feet of dedicated exhibit space (compared to the former 500 square feet).
The newly constructed addition includes an audiovisual room, a classroom, reception area, gift shop and office space for Baruch Foundation and North Inlet– Winyah Bay NERR education staff. All major outside construction activities were timed around the nesting season of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker that runs April 15-July 31.
The “Big Wow” tank arrived from California in February. Constructed of acrylic, the 8 ft diameter tank will be part of the salt marsh exhibit at the new Hobcaw Barony Discovery Center. The contractors were able to finish closing in the building after the tank was moved in.
Permeable pavers were installed in the bus drop-off area and walkways next to the Discovery Center. These pavers provide a sturdy surface for car and foot traffic and can reduce or eliminate stormwater runoff.
The exhibit that surrounds the big tank will replicate the salt marsh and shell midden ecosystems found along the southeast coast.
Displays in the new HBDC exhibit area will include information on the ecology of longleaf pine and swamp habitats.