The McDowell Nature Center will celebrate its 25th anniversary on July 17, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., with several fun activities for the entire family. A vine cutting by dignitaries will kick off the day, which features hikes, hayrides, live animals – including birds of prey from the Carolina Raptor Center — as well as live music, and stories and poetry by Keith “Little Bear” Brown. The McDowell Nature Center, 15222 York Road, opened July 27, 1985, and is located in the southwestern part of Mecklenburg County near Lake Wylie on land that was once used as a Boy Scout Camp. It is the oldest of Park and Recreation’s three nature centers and the only one built by the County. The center serves as the gateway to the 1,115-acre preserve and is the sourcefor educational programs and information on the preserve’s natural communities. “The nature center is a way to get people aware of what’s out in theenvironment,” said Mike Giles, assistant park manager of McDowell Nature Preserve. “Then they can go out in the nature preserve and experience it.” Mecklenburg County now has two additional nature centers, Reedy Creek and Latta Plantation for learning, and over 6,800 acres of natural areas to explore. This activity supports Mecklenburg County’s strategic goal to improve/expand parks, open spaces, greenways and recreational activities.