Bird Day, Campfires, Panning at Discovery Center

Memorial Day weekend sees the official kickofKids Nature Zone at Big Bear Discovery Centerf of the busy summer season at Big Bear Discovery Center, but there’s plenty going on before the holiday too.

It all adds up to a busy month at Discovery Center, Big Bear’s recreation destination and the place to find everything from local hiking information and maps to Wilderness permits and Adventure Passes. Every Saturday from 1 and 2 p.m., and Sunday at 11 a.m. and noon, there’s free Nature Walks around Discovery Center’s forested grounds with a naturalist, 30-minute adventures perfect for the family. Saturdays also see free Nature Crafts projects at 10:30 a.m. for ages 5 and up.

To view wildflowers that grow in Big Bear and nowhere else in the world, head east from Discovery Center along the north shore to Baldwin Lake Ecological Reserve. Open Saturdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m. through June 25, the facility is staffed by volunteers in a partnership between San Bernardino National Forest Association and Fish and Game Dept. and there’s information on what’s blooming on the unique Pebble Plain, plus trail guides for the adjacent interpretive path. Naturalists lead guided hikes through the reserve each Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

Help regrow the forest by getting your hands dirty during the Greenthumbs native plant restoration volunteer day held by the Forest Service on May 21. Volunteers meet at predetermined locations to work for the Forest Service’s long-running forest program, expanded beyond just Big Bear to include the entire San Bernardino Mountains.

Workdays last from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.  Bring a sack lunch, water, sunscreen, hat, jacket and work gloves if you have some. Call (909) 382-2828 for meeting location one to two weeks in advance of workday. Greenthumbs Days are June 18, July 16, August 20, September 17 and 24, and October 15.

Another chance to volunteer is on May 7 during the second annual Meadows Edge Clean-Up Day. Last year over 75 volunteers participated in getting the popular picnic area on the North Shore adjacent to Serrano Campground.

The workday is help from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and volunteers of all ages are needed. Tools are provided and there’s a free lunch for volunteers plus opportunity drawing. Register at

Big Bear Discovery Center celebrates International Migratory Bird Day Saturday, May 14 with an array of bird-related activities for the whole family. Build your own well-designed bird house from 10 a.m.-noon for $6 per kit, a fun activity for the entire family sponsored by Butcher’s Block. Build a Birdhouse is also on May 28.

Evening Programs featuring forest information return most Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. starting May 27. There’s campfires, singalongs, Ranger Talks and much more during the hour-long sessions under the stars. Suggested donation $5.

The holiday weekend is when summer really takes off at Discovery Center. Saturday, May 28  sees the return of popular family activities at Discovery Center including Gold Panning for youngsters from 10 a.m.-noon. The “gold” that fills their pans is really just pyrite, but kids love to swirl sand and water just like miners did 150 years ago in Holcomb Valley during Southern California’s largest gold rush. Kids take their findings home with them along with an informational handout, included in the $3 fee.

Call Big Bear Discovery Center (909) 866-3437.

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