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February 10, 2005

The Southwest Florida Water Management District is announcing the recipients of the 2005 Community Education Grant Program. The grants, which are up to $5,000 each, will help fund projects that provide communities the opportunity to learn about water resources.

This year the District awarded 29 grants Districtwide for a total of $107,667.

The overall goal of the Community Education Grant Program is to actively engage adults in water-related issues pertaining to conservation, protection and preservation. Funded by the District’s Basin Boards, the program is intended to motivate communities to get involved in water protection through various activities and educational formats.

This is the ninth year community education grants have been available.

Here’s a list of recipients from Hillsborough County grouped by the appropriate Basin:

The Ruskin Community Development Foundation will receive $2,000 for the “Welcome to Your Watershed Tour.” This two-day festival is designed to inform more than 5,000 Tampa Bay-area residents on the issues within the watershed. By taking a “watershed tour,” participants will learn about water quality, conservation, flood protection, natural systems and habitat preservation. The tour will consist of visiting interactive booths that will have hands-on water-related activities. In addition the District will provide the water conservation
restroom trailer for further water conservation education. The watershed tour will be held in conjunction with the annual Ruskin Tomato and heritage Festival to encourage a wide range of people to attend, not just people already interested in the environment.

Funding for this project comes from the Alafia River Basin Board. The Alafia River Basin includes the southern half of Hillsborough County and a southwestern portion of Polk County.

Crystal Springs Preserve will receive $1,982 for the “Good Habits Add Up to Healthy Habits” program. Approximately 1,500 residents will be informed about watershed awareness, habitat conservation, preservation and protection, water conservation and water quality through a series of monthly workshops this spring and a “Watershed Watch” family organization. Residents in the Crystal Springs community will also receive a water usage survey and conservation guide. Participants will also install “Watershed Watch Area” and “This Is OUR RiverKeep It Clean” signs.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will receive $4,000 for the University Area Community Center Native Plant Enhancement & Education. Approximately 500 local residents will learn about exotic/nuisance vegetation and re-vegetation with beneficial native plants through a demonstration project. The residents will participate in plantings at the University Area Community Center and will learn about wildlife value and water quality as they relate to vegetation and plant maintenance. Department staff will provide educational material in the form of brochures, handouts and PowerPoint presentations relating to the benefits of native plants and control of exotic vegetation. Interpretive signage will be installed to maximize exposure at the community center.

Joe Payne, P.E. will receive $624 for the Westchase Reclaimed Water Conservation project. Approximately 2,000 Westchase residents will learn about efficient reclaimed water practices during the rainy season. Participants will attend a presentation on the effects of overwatering and proper timer control. Using real sod mats and water, Mr. Payne will describe how overwatering limits the development of root growth and affects site drainage and residents’ personal land use.

Funding for these projects comes from the Hillsborough River Basin Board. The Hillsborough River Basin includes portions of Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties.

The following projects have countywide benefits and are being jointly funded by the Alafia River, Hillsborough River and Northwest Hillsborough Basin Boards. The Northwest Hillsborough Basin is located in Northwest Hillsborough County.

The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) will receive $5,000 for the Bioworks Wastewater Treatment Exhibit and Butterfly Garden. This exhibit is a model of an engineered wetland that has been teaching MOSI guests since 1996. To enhance the educational value of the exhibit, funding will be used for volunteer-docent training and to add signage focusing on native landscaping, water conservation and the use of butterflies.

The Florida Aquarium will receive $4,597 for the Community Education and Habitat Restoration at Fantasy Island program. The program will inform approximately 160 people about point-source pollution, water quality and water conservation. Participants will also travel to Fantasy Island, a spoil island in Tampa Bay, for a hands-on activity involving the restoration of a Florida habitat, cultivating native plants, using water from a rain barrel and testing water quality.

The Hillsborough River Greenways Task Force, in partnership with the Tampa Audubon Society, will receive $4,051 for the Frog Listening Network Workshop. This workshop will be made available to 30,000 to 50,000 people within the Tampa Bay area. Frogs are excellent barometers of conditions in the ecosystem because of their sensitivity to the environment. Participants will be trained to identify frogs by sight and sound, and to record data to be used for analyses.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s 2006 Community Education Grant Program will begin its application process in August of this year if funding is approved by the Basin Boards. The deadline for applications is tentatively scheduled for October. To be added to the mailing list to receive the 2006 application, call the District’s Communications Department at 800-423-1476 or 352-796-7211, ext. 4757.


 
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