The cities of Pella and Riverside have been chosen as finalists for a $150 million environmental learning center, project organizers said Tuesday.
Once known as the Iowa Rainforest Project, the plan has continued to evolve even as it lost its orginial site.
Sixteen communities were earlier this year offered a chance to vie for Earthpark, which will feature prairie and wetland exhibits, a 600,000 gallon freshwater aquarium, an indoor rain forest and galleries on environmental science issues.
The concept includes a large format and mixed media theatre, interactive galleries on the indigenous Iowa prairie, geology and food production for the world, with a network of outdoor trails.
Both Pella and Riverside submitted financial packages that met or exceeded the $25 million in local funding stipulated by the project's board of directors, said David Oman, Earthpark executive director.
"After hundreds of hours of work by our team, in league with dozens of people in communities across Iowa, we now have two viable locations under consideration as Earthpark's future home," he said.
The cities became finalists for the project after Regency Land Services, of West Des Moines, withdrew its proposed site at Tiffin.
The final site is expected to be chosen in September. Construction is expected to begin next year with the Earthpark scheduled to open sometime during the 2009-2010 school year.