The Idyllwild Nature Center was scheduled to reopen July 8, but on July 1, museums (indoor) were once again ordered to be closed.

Park Ranger Steve Perez spoke with the Town Crier about the work he’s been doing while the museum has been closed.

“A lot of the exhibits weren’t set up in a coordinated way, so what we’ve done is consolidate museums into like themes,” Perez said. “It’s sad to say that a lot of the museum upkeep wasn’t done since the ’90s. So, it’s been an undertaking.”

Some of the redesigned exhibits with fresh paint.   Photo by Jenny Kirchner

New stain has been applied throughout the museum, the exhibit façades were all redone and repainted and newly donated baskets and pelts were added to the Cahuilla exhibits. All of the taxidermy were put into one exhibit, instead of being dispersed throughout the museum, which helps keep it cohesive.

While the museum has been closed, Idyllwild Nature Center’s trails have continued to be open so the public can get out and hike and enjoy nature.

When you enter the Idyllwild Nature Center, there are signs to remind visitors what’s allowed and not allowed during these COVID-19 times.   Photo by Jenny Kirchner

“Our grounds have been open to the public aside from the height of the pandemic for a few weeks back in March,” Perez said. “We are offering the one activity that the public can participate in that is safe and gets people out of their house.” 

With people wanting to get out of the house, the Idyllwild Nature Center has experienced an increase in visitors. 

“We’ve seen probably 25% more visitors than this time last year,” Perez said.

Due to COVID-19, Perez is now the only staff member at the nature center. “We ended up losing 10% of our staff countywide,” Perez said.

With that, the Idyllwild Nature Center depends highly on volunteers. While the nature center has always had many volunteers, they are hoping for more during this time.

Part of the live animal exhibit that can be viewed once the museum reopens.  Photo by Jenny Kirchner

“Anyone interested in volunteering, we need them,” Perez said. “Someone that has an hour or so to volunteer and willing to do what needs to be done would be great. None of our volunteers are interacting with the public right now due to COVID-19, so it’s all COVID-safe volunteering.”

If you are interested in volunteering or visiting the nature center’s grounds, it is open (as of press time) Thursday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For those interested in volunteering, you may call the Idyllwild Nature Center at 951-659-3850.