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Withlacoochee survey results to be presented

People interested in protecting the Withlacoochee River have gathered in recent meetings to express their concerns and suggest ways to preserve this fragile resource.

Tonight, they should begin hearing some responses.

The Withlacoochee River Ecosystem Management Initiative aims to develop a plan to improve the quality and quantity of the river.

The first three meetings held in the region the river touches, from the Green Swamp in Pasco County to the Gulf of Mexico in Citrus County, have drawn about 270 people, according to Ken Huntington, of the Department of Environmental Protection.

The participants at the meetings in Inverness, Inglis and Dade City responded to a questionnaire about the river. The results have been tabulated and will be presented at 7 tonight at the Citrus County Auditorium on U.S. 41 S in Inverness.

The responses also will be provided to the management committee and the technical advisory committee. The participants will discuss organization of the various committees and the frequency of future meetings.

The initiative aims at addressing the key issues in protecting the river, from dwindling water levels to wetlands restoration.

Organizers are hoping for strong resident involvement.

"Public participation is absolutely essential for the Ecosystem Management Program to be successful," Huntington said in a news release.

For information, call (813) 744-6100, ext. 341.