For Immediate Release - March 19, 2010


Investment will support tourism industry, provide recreational and educational opportunities throughout region

TURNERS FALLS - Friday, March 19, 2010 - Today, Governor Deval Patrick visited the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls to announce a $200,000 roof repair project that will increase economic development and recreational and educational opportunities throughout Franklin County. The Governor also met with a number of tourism industry leaders in the region to discuss opportunities for growth and collaboration as well as the upcoming tourism season.

"Supporting the future of the Discovery Center means creating educational, business, and job opportunities for the entire community," said Governor Patrick. "The tourism industry is key to the economic vitality of Turners Falls, the region, and the Commonwealth. We are doing everything we can to help this key sector thrive."

The Great Falls Discovery Center was developed in the early 1990s in a partnership between the Department of Environmental Management (a predecessor agency of the Department of Conservation and Recreation [DCR]) and the Town of Montague. Today, the Center is a destination within DCR's Connecticut River Greenway State Park and the federal Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge. The Center is operated as a partnership between the Refuge, which provides funding for utilities and year-round interpretive staff, and DCR, which provides maintenance and seasonal interpretive staff. It is considered a major museum of the Connecticut River Valley for New England.

"We appreciate very much the Governor's enthusiasm for this project," said DCR Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "With his help and support, the Discovery Center will continue to be a major tourist draw in the Connecticut River valley area, educating visitors about the natural and cultural resources of the area and what they can do to help protect those resources."

"This represents another step toward a cleaner, more efficient, more sustainable future," Senate President Pro Tem Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) said. "The people involved with this project are demonstrating a remarkable ability to examine old problems with new eyes."

"This is a smart investment in preserving and protecting one of the true gems in our state park system. The Great Falls Discovery Center has established itself as an important educational attraction that entertains and informs people about the unique natural history of our area. I thank Governor Patrick and the DCR for addressing this much needed capital improvement," said Representative Stephen Kulik.

The Great Falls Discovery Center complex includes two significant historic buildings and the multi-use biking and hiking Canalside Rail Trail. The current Exhibit Hall and Great Hall are the only remaining original buildings of Montague Paper, a company started in 1868 by Alvah Crocker to help stimulate growth in the new industrial village of Turners Falls.

Partnerships have been key in the development and operation of the Great Falls DiscoveryCenter. Federal and state elected officials, Montague town officials, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and Friends of the Great Falls Discovery Center are among the partners helping make this Center the success it has become.

The repair project being announced by the Governor is part of approximately $40 million in improvements to DCR parks and recreational infrastructure planned in 2010.