Ecotourism Attraction Planned for Brooker Creek Preserve

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Reed Travel Features

TAMPA-- Some 400 acres of the 8,000-acre Brooker Creek Preserve in northeast Pinellas County, Fla., near Tarpon Springs, will be developed into a major ecotourism attraction and nature learning center, according to area tourism officials.

During a press briefing here, the officials acknowledged that the preserve had limited public access now, but during the next few years about $40 million will be spent on development and on the construction of a $5 million, 12,000-square-foot environmental educational center.

Eventually, there will be daily self-guided and escorted tours for viewing the preserve's birds, animals, vegetation and swamps. Tourism officials do not have a timetable for the startup.

In other attractions news:

* The 1,500-acre Weedon Island Preserve in north St. Petersburg is being developed as a Native American cultural center and eco-attraction.

The preserve is owned by the state, which in turn leases it to Pinellas County.

An interpretive center will be built, devoted to the area's natural history and that of the Timucuan Indians, the former inhabitants of the region.

* The Florida International Museum will play host to "The Titanic: the Exhibition," Nov. 15 to May 15.

More than 300 objects recovered from the passenger ship that sank April 14, 1912 will be on display. Ticket sales will begin by early summer.

The exhibit "Alexander the Great" closes at the museum March 31. For details, call (813) 822-3693.

* The Tampa Bay Holocaust Museum and Educational Center, now in Madeira Beach, eventually will relocate to downtown St. Petersburg and become part of the St. Petersburg Museum District. For details, call (813) 392-2700.

* The Tampa Bay Devil Rays Major League baseball team makes its debut in spring 1998 using 45,200-seat Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, formerly the Thunder Dome, as its home field.

A $62 million renovation will be completed before the season starts. The facility will host baseball, tennis, hockey, collegiate basketball and entertainment events.

The Devil Rays' spring training will be conducted about two miles away in Al Lang Stadium. For information, call (813) 892-5767.

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