The Friends of the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve have provided funds for new improvements to the ANERR headquarters at 108 Island Drive in Eastpoint.

Phase One of a proposed hiking trail has been completed. A 500-foot section of handicapped accessible boardwalk is open to the public, starting near the main parking lot and running out to an overlook platform at the bay shore, where there is a telescope mounted for viewing. An additional 1400 feet of paths will eventually run north of the parking area to highlight wetland environments surrounding the ANERR building.

Also new is an outdoor classroom under the existing building that allows education groups to work in a shaded, bug-free environment.  The classroom has a perimeter tabletop around the edge with movable benches, and will be furnished with microscopes and other educational equipment. An open house this Friday, March 7, from 5 to 8 p.m., will showcase the new classroom.

The labor costs for both these projects were paid by the Friends of the Reserve. Materials for construction of both projects were provided by state and federal grants.  - By LOIS SWOBODA