The 4 mile long wildlife drive at J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is located on the subtropical barrier island of Sanibel in the Gulf of Mexico. It will be closed from May through October 2013 for repaving.
The refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. It is world famous for its spectacular migratory bird populations. The refuge consists of over 6,400 acres of mangrove forest, submerged seagrass beds, cordgrass marshes, and West Indian hardwood hammocks.
Approximately 2,800 acres of the refuge are designated by Congress as a Wilderness Area.
J. N. “Ding” Darling is one of over 550 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System administered by the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling was a Pulitzer-Prize winning newspaper cartoonist who was appointed by Roosevelt in 1934 as the Director of the U.S. Biological Survey, the forerunner of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In his 18 months as Director, Darling initiated the Federal Duck Stamp Program, designed the first duck stamp, designed the blue goose icon for the National Wildlife Refuges, and vastly increased the acreage of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
He also developed partnerships with state universities to train scientists in the emerging study of wildlife biology.
We hope you’ll make time to visit this very special place once it is open again to driving spectators.