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The Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC) looks like it arises naturally from its surroundings at the entrance to Presque Isle State Park. Here in this two-story structure of brick, glass, and steel, visitors will discover a 75-foot observation tower, 7,000 square feet of exhibits, a Presque Isle orientation theater, a research wing, and Presque Isle Gallery and Gifts. Among the most impressive features of the center is a large-format theater, the first of its kind in the Pennsylvania state park system. The Big Green Screen theater is equipped with the most modern technology available for large-format movie projection. Our four-story-high, 45-foot wide screen puts you as close to reality as you can get without being there.

TREC is an educational center dedicated to teaching visitors about the unique 3,200 acres of Presque Isle and the many different forms of life that inhabit the peninsula. TREC also serves as a center for research -- contributing to conservation efforts and promoting environmental awareness, helping to preserve the unparalleled beauty of Presque Isle and Lake Erie, the site of Pennsylvania's only seashore.

While some facilities along the Great Lakes offer environmental education and others do research, none offer research, education, and visitor services in one place, making TREC a unique destination for learning, wonder, and fun. TREC is open year-round and offers free admission to its interactive exhibits, glass-enclosed tower, and orientation movie. Learn about the history of Presque Isle and how you can contribute to keeping it healthy, pristine, and beautiful.



The Tom Ridge Environmental Center includes the following:

  1. An educational resource with displays and exhibits, indoor and outdoor classrooms, interpretive programs, and more.

  2. A research center, where scientists from across the United States and Canada study the Great Lake watersheds and the life of Presque Isle and its plant and animal inhabitants.

  3. A true travel destination and Erie Visitor Center with exhibits, a unique gift shop, a Cafe, and information about the major tourist and recreational attractions in Erie and northwestern Pennsylvania.

Unique Green Features of The Tom Ridge Environmental Center

  • Recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices
  • Ample bicycle storage to encourage alternative transportation
  • Reduced site disturbance by using already-developed building site
  • Preserved open space
  • Porous parking lot – reduces stormwater runoff and on-point pollution
  • Native plants utilized in landscaping that reinforces the ecology of the peninsula and negates the need for irrigation
  • Exterior shading of windows to reduce cooling costs
  • Translucent panels reduce reflectivity lessening likelihood of bird strikes
  • Almost all building materials came from within a 500-mile radius thereby reducing the need to burn fossil fuels
  • Many materials incorporated have a high-recycled content such as steel, carpet, wheat board, and linoleum
  • Rainwater collection system for reuse in toilet flushing
  • White roof that reflects the sun and reduces cooling
  • Raised floor system that serves as a plenum and provides maximum flexibility
  • Operable windows that allow for fresh air exchange
  • Building oriented southward to take advantage of heating and sunlight exposure
  • Light colors incorporated to landscaping to reduce heat islands
  • Designed luminance levels reduce light pollution on surrounding properties
  • Low to no VOC's (volatile organic compounds) used in all adhesives, glues, and paints
  • Building flush out to maximize indoor air quality
  • All building systems are required to be commissioned by a certified commissioning agent
  • Recycling storage and accessibility
  • All construction waste was minimized and accounted for
  • Daylight incorporated into 75% of the building spaces
  • Solar Panel Arrays and low-level LED lighting displays


Climb the 75' tower

Explore the exhibits

View the Presque Isle Orientation film

Shop at Presque Isle Gallery and Gifts

Experience the Big Green Screen Theatre

Book your next meeting

Grab a bite to eat at the Sunset Café

Visitor INFO


Donate & Support
Donate and become a part of something greater. Your donation will benefit the TREC's and Presque Isle's education, research, and visitor experience.