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FEDS HONOR 18 FOR PROTECTING MANATEE REFUGE

Eighteen people and agencies who helped get the manatee refuge at Three Sisters Springs into public hands were honored in Atlanta this week.

Recipients of the 2010 Regional Director's Conservation Awards from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service include Helen Spivey of the Save the Manatee Club, the city of Crystal River, Lace Blue-McLean and Jim Green of the Friends of the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Michael Lusk, manager of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and Hal Flowers, previous owner of the property.

Now managed as part of the Crystal River refuge, the 57-acre site in Citrus County was acquired through a partnership of federal, state, city, private and nonprofit organizations.

Spivey, celebrating her 83rd birthday, was honored the same day by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who served with and sat next to Spivey in the Florida House years ago. She honored Spivey for a lifetime of work for environmental causes, including Three Sisters Springs.

"This project is a microcosm of Helen's long fight to protect Florida's incredible natural wonders and to protect much needed habitat for the Florida manatee," Wasserman Schultz said. "I am thrilled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is honoring you today because no one is more deserving of this recognition."

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