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Events show how to be planet-savvy on Earth Day


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 20, 2001

Earth Day will be celebrated in Citrus County with a variety of activities, most of them held at Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park on Saturday.

There, people can attend lectures to learn more about Florida's wild bears, or go on one of three field trips. Other activities at the state park include a fossil dig and scavenger hunt. The park has waived its normal entry fee; admission on Saturday is free.

The state park, which features a number of native animals and plants, will have a daylong scavenger hunt as part of Earth Day. People can go to each of the 28 educational exhibits and participate in a scavenger hunt for answers to questions about the environment. Those who find the answers by visiting all the exhibits will receive a package of Earth Day information and goodies, as well as a chance to take part in a drawing for donated prizes.

Other events include:

SWAMP STOMP: A biathlon, 9.5-mile run and 13-mile paddle marks this new event. The kayak races will begin at Spirit Spring, a three-head spring boil on the Chassahowitzka River at 8690 W Lykes Trail, which is also a yoga center. The event is a fundraiser for the Friends of Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge Complex Inc. The trip takes paddlers through a section of a nature reserve, where birds, manatee, turtles and other creatures live. Registration fees benefit Friends of Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge Complex, a non-profit organization. Registration the day of the event begins at 6 a.m. at the Riverside Resort in Homosassa. Canoe and kayak rentals and lodging are separate. Call Jane Shaw at 382-2744.

INVERNESS CLEANUP: For residents of east Citrus, there is a chance to make their surroundings a better place. The city of Inverness holds its annual Spring Cleanup Campaign Saturday in cooperation with Citrus County in celebration of Earth Day. City staffers will host a kick-off coffee at 8 a.m. at the Old Courthouse. Free bags will be available for people to pick up debris throughout the city. Local associations, clubs and residents are invited to participate. For information, call 726-2611.

BIRD PROGRAM: The Chinsegut Nature Center holds its annual Welcome Back Songbirds Festival from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Events will include bird banding, an introductory birding/attracting birds class, butterfly and plant walks, a birds of prey demonstration, a chance to build bird boxes, puppetry, a bug program and a bird-calling contest. In-service credit is available. Refreshments and books will be available for purchase. The center is at 23212 Lake Lindsey Road (County Road 476) in Brooksville. For information, call (352) 754-6722.

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Earth Day activities at Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park

9 a.m. -- Park opens

9:30 -- Field trip leaves from Gate 2, at west entrance to the park on Fishbowl Drive.

10 -- Talk about bears with biologist Walt McCown at Visitor Center's Florida Room. Visitors Center is on U.S. 19 and Halls River Road.

10 -- Children's activities at Gardens of the Springs

10:45 -- Manatee program begins

11:15 -- Music at Garden of the Springs.

11:30 -- Field trip leaves from Gate 2 at west entrance to the park.

Noon -- Talk about bears with "Kids For Cubs" at Visitor Center's Florida Room.

12:15 p.m. -- Alligator and hippo program.

1 -- Manatee program.

1:30 -- Field trip leaves from Gate 2 at west entrance to the park on Fishbowl Drive.2 -- Talk about bears with biologist Mark Cunningham at Visitor Center Florida Room.

2:30 -- Alligator and hippo program.

3:15 -- Manatee program.

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Ongoing activities

Music from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Garden of the Springs.

Working river restoration project from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Children's activities

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m in the Garden of the Springs

Paleontology Dig -- Participants will dig for artifacts buried in a sandpile.

Track casting -- Children will make and can keep a plaster replica of a bear's footprint.

Bear walk -- Children can attempt to match the actual stride of a bear.

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