"It's great to have these young people from Farnsworth Middle School," said Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings. "We have to do the right thing and continue to grow and pay attention to what's happening here in the Pine Bush."
The project cost $3.1 million in public and private funds, with most of the support coming from the state Environmental Protection Fund.
"This is a real enhancement for the preserve, and the fact that the project was funded through a working public-private sector collaboration makes the achievement even more significant," said Ken Runion, Guilderland's town supervisor, in a statement.
Hawver said officials are hoping to raise another $1.5 million to improve the outdoor portion of the center, which is located in the former State Employees Federal Credit Union headquarters, and to support other long-term plans.
The Pine Bush formed 12,000 to 15,000 years ago when the waters of a glacial lake drained, leaving a sandy bottom. Today's preserve represents less than 20 percent of the original ecosystem, and is home to more than 20 rare species of plants and animals, including the wild blue lupine and the endangered Karner blue butterfly.