J.N. "Ding" Darling NWR
Southeast Region
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Comprehensive Conservation Plan

Raccoon.  Credit: Herb Lieberman, USFWS

Raccoon. Credit: Herb Lieberman, USFWS

We appreciate all the interest, involvement, and comments regarding future management of all five refuges in the J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR Complex.  The public review and comment periods have closed for both draft comprehensive conservation plans (CCPs):

  • J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR and
  • Pine Island, Matlacha Pass, Island Bay, and Caloosahatchee NWRs.

If you submitted comments, you will find the Service’s responses to those comments in the final CCPs and in the Public Involvement appendix (Appendix D) of each Plan.

Final CCPs are anticipated for both CCPs later this year.  The final CCPs will be available:

  • at the Ding Darling Education Center and
  • on the web by visiting http://www.fws.gov/southeast/planning/, selecting Final CCP Documents, and selecting the CCP of interest.
  • If you requested a copy of either or both draft plans in advance of the public review and comment periods and/or if you submitted comments on either or both of the draft plans, you should also receive paper and/or CD copy(ies) in the mail.

    You may also request CD or paper copies of the plans by:

    Emailing: Contacting the Refuge Complex:
    • by phone at 239.472.1100 or
    • by mail at J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR Complex CCPs
      1 Wildlife Drive
      Sanibel, FL 33957

    Please note that federal government mailing lists are subject to the Freedom of Information Act of 1974 and require the release of these lists to the public, upon request.


    Priority Issues Facing Pine Island, Matlacha Pass, Island Bay, Caloosahatchee, and J.N. “Ding” Darling NWRs

    During the preplanning and public scoping phases in the development of these CCPs, a myriad of issues, concerns, and opportunities were raised by the public, local businesses, organizations, the Service, and other governmental agencies. Issue identification is a major factor in determining future management goals and objectives, as well as future projects. In addition to the general public scoping meetings, another meeting was conducted with federal, state, and local governmental agencies. Coordination with the governmental partners and the public is essential to ensure support for the CCPs and the identified projects. While some of the issues and concerns raised during scoping are important to the future of these refuges, many are not within the Service’s management jurisdiction or authority, and some are outside of its control. Several opportunities raised during scoping are addressed by the Service in the CCPs. The Service evaluated the long list of issues raised, identified the priority issues to be addressed over the next 15 years, evaluated steps to rectify these issues and resource needs, and measured the impacts of implementation. From these priority issues, the Service developed the list of goals, objectives, and strategies to shape management of these refuges for the 15-year life of the CCPs. The priority issues for these refuges to address during the 15-year life of the CCPs are listed.

    • Increasing and Changing Human Population, Development of the Landscape, Recreational Uses and Demands, and Associated Impacts
    • Issues and Impacts Associated with Water Quality, Water Quantity, and Timing
    • Invasion and Spread of Exotic, Invasive, and Nuisance Species
    • Climate Change Impacts
    • Need for Long Term Protection of Important Resources
    • Declines in and Threats to Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Species
    • Insufficient Baseline Wildlife and Habitat Data and Lack of Comprehensive Habitat Management Plan
    • Insufficient Staff and Resources to Address Refuge Needs


    We Need You!

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites you to participate in the Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) planning process for the J.N. "Ding" Darling, Pine Island, Matlacha Pass, Island Bay, and Caloosahatchee National Wildlife Refuges. These five refuges are collectivly administered as the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Complex) with its headquarters located at the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida. We are in the Preplanning Stage for the CCP, this means we are currently gathering information and data to begin evaluating the past, present, and future of the Complex. Following the Preplanning Stage, we will begin Public Scoping where we will hold meetings and take comments on what the public sees as the issues, concerns, and challenges for this Complex over the next 15 years. After Public Scoping, we will then review all the information, data, and comments gathered from all the sources (e.g., from the public, partners, other governmental agencies, organizations, and local businesses) and begin drafting a 15-year management plan for the Complex. Once a draft is complete, we will go back to the public for review and comment.

    CCP Process:

    • Conduct Preplanning -- completed
    • Conduct Public Scoping -- completed
    • Prepare Draft CCP -- completed
    • Conduct Internal Review -- completed
    • Hold Public Review and Comment Period -- completed
    • Create Final CCP -- anticipated by September 30, 2010
    • Approve Finding of No Significant Impact -- anticipated by September 30, 2010
    • Implement and Monitor the CCP over 15 Years - October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2025
    • Review & Revise the Plan within 15 Years -- 2025

    Purpose And Need for The Plan

    The purpose of the Plans are to develop proposed actions that best achieve the refuges purposes; attains the vision and goals developed for the refuges; contributes to National Wildlife Refuge System (Refuge System, NWRS) mission; addresses key challenges, issues and relevant mandates; and is consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife management.

    Specifically, the Plan is needed to:

    • Provide a clear statement of refuge management direction;
    • Provide refuge neighbors, visitors, and government officials with an understanding of Service management actions on and around the refuge;
    • Ensure that Service management actions, including land protection and recreation/education programs, are consistent with the mandates of the National Wildlife Refuge System; and
    • Provide a basis for the development of budget requests for operations, maintenance, and capital improvement needs.

    Establishing Purposes

    The establishing purpose of the J.N. "Ding" Darling Refuge, as stated in the executive order, is "...for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds."

    The establishing purpose for each of the other four refuges, as stated in their respective executive orders, is "...as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds."

    DRAFT Vision Statement for the J.N. "Ding" Darling Refuge

    The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is an interwoven, dynamic system where salt water meets fresh, where shorelines recede within the tangle of mangrove roots, where coastal and freshwater marshes meet subtropical hardwood hammocks, and where submerged aquatic vegetation thrives providing the foundation for estuary life. These diverse habitats are managed, conserved, and protected to support a vast array of native birds, fish, mammals and other wildlife. Visitors can hear songbirds calling in the hammocks, and watch wading birds on the tidal flats during feeding frenzies, or find solitude in the backwaters of the Wilderness Area.

    The refuge is a gateway to the National Wildlife Refuge System, providing educational awareness of this national network of lands and waters to thousands of visitors annually. The refuge is a memorial to Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling; continuing his legacy where environmental education and conservation through art continues in earnest and reflects the grass roots environmental efforts that established the refuge and continue to exist today. The refuge is utilized as a world class living laboratory to foster excellence in biological and ecological research and to enable integrated and adaptive management. The refuge is a premier example for developing partnerships to accomplish the greatest of goals.


    If you would like to keep informed about this planning process, please fill out and return the mailing list request form. We look forward to hearing from you!


    • Please Submit comments via one of the following:
      Fax: (239) 472-4061
      E-mail: dingdarlingccp@fws.gov
      Mail: J.N. "Ding" Darling, CCP
      1 Wildlife Drive
      Sanibel, FL 33957


    Public Meeting Announcements and Dates

    Planning Updates

    Mailing List Request Form

    Comment Form


    Helpful Links:

    General Information
    FWS Planning Policy (see Part 602, Refuge Planning)
    FWS, Southeast Region's Planning


    If you have any question or need further information please contact Patrick Martin: (239) 472-1100 ext. 225


    Last updated: September 9, 2010