'Ding' Darling Refuge permitted to reopen its admission-free Visitor & Education Center with limited visitor services. SC file photo by Dorothy Wallace
'Ding' Darling Refuge permitted to reopen its admission-free Visitor & Education Center with limited visitor services. SC file photo by Dorothy Wallace

As one of America’s 38 most-visited national wildlife refuges, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island was permitted today, Jan. 10, to reopen its admission-free Visitor & Education Center with limited visitor services.

A scaled-back government staff will receive pay from refuge entrance fee dollars, not appropriations. This arrangement is approved for 30 days, upon which time, if the government remains shut down, further guidance will be issued.

Normal Visitor & Education Center hours apply: daily 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Refuge Nature Store, operated the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge, is also open to resume its support of refuge programs and projects.

The schedule of films, lectures, free tours and programs, and special exhibitions will resume in the center tomorrow, Jan. 11. All other refuge facilities that have remained operational will continue to be so, including Tarpon Bay Explorers, Wildlife Drive and its trails, and Bailey Tract. Refer to dingdarlingsociety.org for events and the latest updates.

ABOUT DDWS

As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research, and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop profits.

To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit dingdarlingsociety.org or contact Birgie Miller at 239-472-1100 ext. 4 or director@dingdarlingsociety.org.