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This architectural rendering shows what the new bird blind at Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park will look like once completed in April 2020. The project is being funded by West Pasco Audubon with a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation.

NEW PORT RICHEY – West Pasco Audubon has received a $27,340 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation. The grant will help support bird and habitat conservation through the construction of a bird blind in Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park.

According to a press release, the bird blind will be constructed over Grassy Lake, which will allow for optimal unobstructed viewing of several threatened species, including roseate spoonbills, wood storks, sandhill cranes, little blue and tricolored herons and southeastern American kestrels.

Data gathered from the bird blind will be shared with land managers and may be used to inform decision-making for the lake.

Once completed, Pasco County Parks and Recreation, which operates the 8,300-acre Starkey Wilderness Park on land owned by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, will maintain the bird blind.

“We are delighted that a long-held goal of our group is finally being fulfilled and are extremely grateful to the Duke Energy Foundation for giving us this wonderful opportunity,” said Christine Rowland, president of West Pasco Audubon. “We appreciate that, in addition to providing an opportunity to monitor and support a range of state-listed birds, it will be appreciated by many who enjoy Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park.”

The bird blind will also be available to the general public using the park, Pasco County’s Parks and Recreation programs, school students who visit the park to learn about ecosystems and local nature photographers.

The bird blind was designed pro bono by Ed Hoffman of Hoffman Architects, in Tarpon Springs. The firm’s projects have included the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, the Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center and the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center.

New Port Richey-based AmeriDocks Marine Construction will build the blind. The anticipated completion time for the construction project is late March 2020, with a grand opening tentatively set for early April 2020.

Weardeck, based in Ocala, has agreed to upgrade the decking and handrails of the dock with pressure-treated marine lumber, a $5,000 in-kind value.

“Helping to protect and preserve Florida’s natural resources and wildlife species is vitally important to our customers, communities and company,” said Catherine Stempien, Duke Energy Florida president. “Our communities are only as healthy as the environment around them and we’re proud to partner with local nonprofit agencies, such as the West Pasco Audubon, in their missions to help Florida’s environment.”

For more information on West Pasco Audubon, visit westpascoaudubon.com.