LOS BANOS — The days of using buckets to combat the leaky roof, having too little space to accommodate the vast number of hunting enthusiasts and lacking a permanent structure to work from are over.
The California Department of Fish and Game on Oct. 20 will officially open its new hunter check station at the North Grasslands Wildlife Area on Wolfsen Road. The $730,000 station is a big improvement on the cramped trailer Fish and Game employees had worked out of for years.
"Fish & Game doesn't get very many things that are brand-new. We worked out of the old trailer for many years, and people had to climb the rickety stairs and we had to put our buckets out because the roof was leaking," said Terry Palmisano, Fish and Game program manager. "This will be great for staff and great for the public."
The station is about 1,400 square feet and has three windows to check in hunters. The trailer barely had enough space for three people to be inside at once. The check station serves 7,700 to 8,400 people each season.
"The efficiency is really going to be improved. Each one of these windows will make up for that one area (inside the trailer)," said Chris Hildebrandt of Ducks Unlimited.
Hildebrandt said operating from the trailer meant that Fish and Game staff had to come to work early to get set up and be ready to process the hundreds of visitors to the wildlife area.
Wildlife Habitat Supervisor Steve Miyamoto said many people come from out of state to the wildlife area. Being able to serve them better could mean more people will visit, which could boost the economy in Los Banos, he said.
The new station was paid for through Wildlife Restoration funds and bond monies, Miyamoto said. The station andits restrooms now comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
John Donnelly of the California Wildlife Conservation Board helped oversee the project.
"It made so much sense on so many levels to do this project," he said.