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Get out into the field and thank Mother Earth

Kayaking on the river, welcoming songbirds and a participating in a Spring Cleanup Campaign are some of the events scheduled to celebrate Earth Day.

By JORGE SANCHEZ

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 20, 2001


Kayaking on the river, welcoming songbirds and a participating in a Spring Cleanup Campaign are some of the events scheduled to celebrate Earth Day.

Earth Day will be celebrated in Citrus County with a variety of activites, 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, addmission on Saturday's Earth Days are free.

Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park 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.

Children's activities will focus protecting the Florida Black Bear, and a wetlands restoration project in the Garden of the Springs. Three field trips are also scheduled, and they leave from the West gate of the park on Fishbowl Drive next to the main entrance.

The park will also have its usual alligator, hippo and manatee programs. Park hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 628-5343.

The Friends of Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Inc., will have the first Swamp, Stomp and Paddle beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday with a biathlon, 9.5-mile run and 13-mile paddle beginning at the Homosassa Riverside Resort.

Organizers said about 30 paddlers have signed up for the Swamp Stomp, which begins at a spring boil on the Chassahowitzka River. The trip takes paddlers through a section of a nature reserve, where birds, manatee, turtles and other creatures live.

Kayaks or canoes will be launched from Spirit Springs, 8690 W Lykes Trail on the Chassahowitzka River, and paddle through the Seven-Cabbage Cutoff in the National Wildlife Refuge onto the Homosassa River.

Participants receive a T-shirt. Trophies will be awarded to male and female winners. Those who prefer to participate only in the 8-mile run or the 13-mile canoe/kayak event may register without participating in the entire biathlon. A four-mile guided walk is also offered through the preserve. Walkers gather at the Homosassa Riverside Resort at 8 a.m., ride a bus to the trail head and walk back. A cookout begins at 6 p.m. at the Riverside Resort for $10.

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.

For residents of east Citrus, there is a chance to make the The city of Inverness will hold its annual Spring Cleanup Campaign on 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.

TheChinsegut 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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