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Rediscovering Chinsegut: Center preserves area's natural history

Hernando Today correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: July 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM

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Bill and Christina Walker worry that their three children, Brendan, Mia and Chloe, aren't getting the kind of wholesome upbringing they both enjoyed as children.

"We used to play for hours outside in the woods," said Bill, who grew up in upstate New York. Christina remembered catching fireflies on hot summer evenings or camping in the back yard.

The two-income household spends more time juggling overloaded schedules than they do bonding as a family. Weekends used to be the time to reconnect and find creative adventures where the children and their parents could explore new activities together.

"Now we play catch-up," said Bill.

The Walkers recently took their family to Chinsegut Conservation Center, the environmental preserve located north of Brooksville on Lake Lindsey Road. For one balmy afternoon, the three children set down their electronics and hiked a few of the numerous hiking trails, searching for wildlife and learning about their environment.

Located just seven miles north of Brooksville, Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area is the ideal place for busy families to reconnect. The 850 preserved acres are bursting with wildlife and education, open to the public and available in the heart of the Nature Coast.

And Chinsegut has an intriguing history, dating back to the early 1900s when it was owned by Col. Raymond Robins, Alaskan born and an economic advisor for five presidents. He named his property "Chinsegut," an Alaskan Inuit Indian word that means "the place where things of true value that have been lost may be found again."

Robins donated the land to the federal government in 1932 for the purpose of a wildlife refuge. It was acquired by the Commission of Wildlife in 1972 and grew in size by obtaining an additional 420 acres and 30 more in 2008 bringing it to its current size.

Chinsegut is known for its many species of wildlife, including deer, wild turkeys and bobcats as well as an assortment of amphibians and reptiles like pig, bull and gopher frogs; dwarf sirens; tiger salamanders; and the protected gopher tortoise.

The Chinsegut Conservation Center also hosts many educational workshops and programs throughout the year for children and adults. During the summer, several wildlife viewings and other scheduled activities are planned, including a Butterfly Census, Wetlands Exploration, Archery, and Blooms of Summer.

Trails are available to hike and spot the wildlife. Currently, Chinsegut is open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. and for prescheduled and planned events.

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