About the Refuge
The J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge was created to safeguard and enhance the pristine wildlife habitat of Sanibel Island, to protect endangered and threatened species, and to provide feeding, nesting, and roosting areas for migratory birds. Today, the refuge provides important habitat to over 220 species of birds.
A political cartoonist with an eye toward conservation, Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling was instrumental in the effort to block the sale of a parcel of environmentally valuable land to developers on Sanibel Island. At Darling's urging, President Harry S. Truman signed an Executive Order creating the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge in 1945.
The refuge was renamed in 1967 in honor of the pioneer conservationist. 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.
The J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is part of a larger complex that encompasses the Caloosahatchee NWR, Matlacha Pass NWR, Pine Island NWR, and Island Bay NWR. The majority of the lands in these refuges are nesting and roosting islands. The entire complex is approximately 8,000 acres.
Click here for a J. N. "Ding" Darling NWR fact sheet.
Click here for the J. N. "Ding" Darling NWR general refuge brochure.