Local research center celebrates 50 years of work

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COLUMBIA - 50 years ago the Columbia Environmental Research Center (CERC) opened its doors on 33 acres of land purchased for one dollar.

Thursday, it held an event to celebrate its 50th anniversary, which included lunch, a tour of the center, and keynote speakers and scientists representing the United States Geological Survey.

As part of the United States Geological Survey, CERC focuses on doing research to preserve the wildlife and agricultural land around Missouri and the country.

Research ranges from finding contaminants, studying endangered fish, and the effects habitat change has on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

“It’s important to recognize that this center has been part of the Columbia community for 50 years, and has done incredible work through the years,” Rip Shively director of CERC said.

The event included former and current employees who spoke on the progress of the center and its work.

“What CERC has done is thrive for 50 years. You’ve been productive, you’ve been attentive, “ Dr. Michael Mack, former Director of CERC, said to the numerous employees at the event.

Currently, CERC is working on a program on the Missouri River focused on trying to recover the endangered pallid sturgeon, a fish that primarily lives in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

The center was originally opened in Colorado, but when the work became more, and the space became less, the search for a new location led the center to Columbia.

The Columbia Environmental Research Center was established in 1966 after the University of Missouri sold the land the center currently sits on.