Neal Taylor Nature Center
The Mission of the Nature Center Neal Taylor Nature Center was established in 1988, to encourage public understanding, enjoyment, and protection of Cachuma Lake, the Upper Santa Ynez River, and the San Rafael Mountain Range Watershed.
Neal Taylor Nature Center is located within Cachuma Recreation Area in a picturesque old ranch house. Developed and operated by a corps of committed volunteers, it offers exhibits on the local valley and mountain environment for all ages, emphasizing hands-on exhibits to appeal to children.
Exhibits offer educational material on:
- The construction of Bradbury Dam
- Trees, wildflowers and shrubs of chaparral, oak woodlands, and riparian habitats
- Fish that live in Cachuma Lake
- Mammals of the area
- Weather of the Santa Ynez Valley
- Birds, with mounted specimens
- The Chumash people past and present
An active Board of Directors with members from surrounding communities is responsible for setting policy and fund-raising. Docents, other volunteers, and park hosts operate the Center, develop exhibits, assist Cachuma Lake Recreation Area naturalists with interpretive activities, maintain the building and grounds, write a bi-monthly newsletter and other informative material, and assist with fund-raising events. Both groups meet monthly for business meetings. ON-going educational; programming and social events are important activities for these enthusiastic volunteers.
During the school year thousands of students visit the Nature Center as part of their Cachuma Lake Recreation Area field trip. Admission for these groups is free. On weekends and in summer, campers and day-use groups from all over Southern California enjoy the exhibits and programs at the Center.
Mounted specimens of animals and birds of the watershed are featured in the Center. Many other exhibits offer children and adults an opportunity to work puzzles, play games, and test their knowledge of the local area.
The Nature Center Fish Derby
The spring Fish Derby, and annual fund raiser, provides major funding for the Nature Center's day-to-day operation. The Derby is open to children and adults, with guaranteed cash prizes. Many merchants and individuals support this event with donations of cash and merchandise.
Grants from several local foundations including Santa Barbara Foundation, Wood-Claeyssens Foundation, The Valley Foundation, The Outhwaite Foundation, and Towbes Foundation provide funding for specific projects or equipment.