Government Shutdown

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‘Ding’ Darling allowed ‘soft reopening’ 

[January 10, 2019] 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 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 free films and lectures, tours and programs, and special exhibitions will resume in the center as of January 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 for events and the latest updates.



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