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Brooksville, Florida -- Hernando County has been awarded $3 million for a new Nature Coast education and tourism center. County officials announced Monday the governor approved the money which the county says will match dollar for dollar.

SEE ALSO:Hernando Beach residents don't want Nature Center

The County plans to immediately begin working with appropriate agencies, conservation groups and other stakeholders to gather public input to plan and launch a concept called "The Nature Coast Experience."

The Nature Coast Experience will consist of an education and tourism center with exhibits showcasing the natural beauty of Hernando County, the history and environmental significance of the preserve and the low-impact recreational activities available. The architecture of the building will reflect an old Florida cracker-style home with a wrap-around veranda. It will also include a public beach with designated parking areas, a shallow kiddie pool, pavilions, cabanas and a boat launch for non-motorized boats.

County officials are looking at using a small portion of the Weekiwachee Preserve as the location for the center.

"District staff is supportive of the proposed project," said Carmen Sanders, land manager for the Southwest Florida Water Management District. "The District is open to partnering with local governments to provide recreation opportunities, and District staff will work with the County to gather public input prior to any decisions being made."

Public meetings are scheduled as follows:

DATE: Wednesday, June 11, 2014
TIME: 4 to 6 p.m.
LOCATION: Hernando Beach Coast Guard Auxiliary
4340 Calienta Street
Hernando Beach, FL 34607

DATE: Thursday, June 12, 2014
TIME: 4 to 6 p.m.
LOCATION: Hernando County Transportation Services Department
1525 East Jefferson Street
Brooksville, FL 34601

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