Government Shutdown

Visit this page often for up-to-the-minute updates. 

Government ‘Cease-Fire’ Means Reprieve

Whereas the soft reopening of the Visitor & Education Center was scheduled to end February 2, last week’s decision to temporarily open the government for three weeks extends that date to February 15. All Refuge facilities are at this time operating at full capacity during regular hours. All Refuge employees will be allowed to work during the period and will receive their back pay. 

Speak out about the shutdown

To have your voice heard about the government shutdown and its impact on our wildlife refuges and the employees who work to protect them, click HERE to demand an end to the shutdown. 

‘Ding’ Darling allowed ‘soft reopening’ 

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.

Note: Unless the shutdown reaches and end or the Refuge negotiates an extension, the Visitor & Education Center will reclose as of February 2. 



Support Us

Donate and make a difference!

Making a charitable contribution is easy and tax deductible. You can donate online by clicking the Support the Refuge button below. Once you have registered or logged in, you can choose to make a Regular Donation, a Memorial to remember a departed loved one, or an Honorarium as a special gift to a nature-loving friend or family member.


Choose a donation type


Enter the donation amount

Ding Darling Mobile App

Discover Ding

Download the Discover Nature app

Download on the App StoreAndroid app on Google play