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Area wildlife refuges subject of celebration

Tours of wildlife habitats and informational exhibits will be part of Discover Your Refuge week, beginning Oct 2.

To celebrate the week, a kickoff event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Crystal River office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1502 SE Kings Bay Drive.

Among the offerings at the kickoff celebration is a free boat tour of the wildlife refuge in Kings Bay. Other events and exhibits include a kayak demonstration, hands-on displays, birds of prey, a Florida panther and environmental education displays.

In Kings Bay, there are national wildlife refuges at Buzzard Island, Palm Island, Three Sisters Springs, Banana Island, Warden Key and Sunset Shores. These are small refuges, primarily to protect manatees. Entry is prohibited from Nov. 15 to March 31.

In Chassahowitzka, a much larger national wildlife refuge is maintained off the coastal marshlands beginning at the Citrus/Hernando county line and extending north to the mouth of the Homosassa River in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are 500 refuges covering 92-million acres in the United States.

For information about the National Wildlife Refuge Week, call Eileen M. Nunez at 563-2008.

A RIVER OF BEAUTY: Forty varieties of coleus plant, or more than 15,000 plants in all, will be showcased daily at Silver Springs beginning Tuesday and running through Oct. 21 during the third annual Coleus Festival and Flower Show. The plants will be exhibited in botanical sculptures and decorative flower beds along the Silver River.