April 25, 2005

The Southwest Florida Water Management District is holding a workshop to gather the public’s input on how the Starkey Wilderness Preserve should be managed and used.

The workshop will be held at the Starkey Environmental Education Center on Thursday, April 28 at 6 p.m. The environmental center is located at the Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, 10500 Wilderness Park Road in New Port Richey.

The Starkey Wilderness Preserve encompasses more than 19,000 acres of land in southwestern Pasco County. The property consists of a variety of habitats including wetlands, pine flatwoods, cypress domes, freshwater marshes, mixed uplands and improved pasture.

The preserve serves as a public supply wellfield, protects natural riverine floodplains, and accommodates a variety of recreational uses. Pasco County manages recreational use on the 8,000-acre portion of the preserve known as the Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, which includes the environmental education center. The District is responsible for managing the preserve’s natural resources and for accommodating recreational usage on the remaining portion of the property, which includes the Serenova and Anclote River Ranch tracts.

Public usage of District-owned lands emphasizes recreational uses that are compatible with the natural resources of a site. Recreational uses proposed for or currently allowed on the property include hiking, horseback riding, off-road and on-road bicycling, camping (primitive, tents), wildlife observation, nature study, outdoor nature photography and picnicking. The recent extension of the paved trail provides access to the Suncoast Trail. Cabins are also available for overnight rental. Improvements to enhance access and expand recreational opportunities are proposed in the updated plan.

For more information about the management plan or attending the workshop, please call the Eugene Kelly in District’s Land Management Department at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4464.


 
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