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February 25, 2008

Two Pasco County projects that are expected to reach about 10,000 people were awarded Community Education Grants from the Southwest Florida Water Management District. These grants provide up to $5,000 to help fund projects that provide communities an opportunity to learn about water resources.

This year the District awarded 38 grants Districtwide for a total of $136,598. This is the 11th year Community Education Grants have been available.

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 watershed protection through various activities and educational formats.

The Pasco County Parks and Recreation Department will receive a $3,542 grant for “Bats, Bears, Birds, Bugs and Us: Water Sustains Us All,” a new program that will expand the educational offerings at the Starkey Environmental Education Center at the Starkey Wilderness Park. The new program will include 21 activities that focus on water’s role in the park and the watershed. The activities will discuss wetlands, biodiversity, wildlife, Florida-friendly landscaping, water conservation and other topics. Approximately 5,000 people will be reached by this project.

This project is funded by the District’s Coastal Rivers, Hillsborough River, Pinellas-Anclote River and Withlacoochee River Basin Boards. Portions of Pasco County are located within the boundaries of each of these Basin Boards.

The Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park will receive $4,329 for the Great Water Quality Quest project. The state park will work with high school seniors to conduct water quality tests on several stormwater ditches that enter the park from adjacent communities. Students will create a database with their findings, area maps, and a brochure to distribute to communities and businesses near the park. The goals are to create a base line of data on water quality, to educate students about water quality and pollution sources, and to educate area communities and businesses about their impact on the park. The project has the potential to reach 5,300 residents.

This project is funded by the District’s Coastal Rivers Basin Board, which includes portions of Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus counties.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s 2009 Community Education Grant Program will begin its application process in June 2008. For more information, please call the District’s Communications Department at 1-800-423-1476 or 352-796-7211, ext. 4757.

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