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Sanibel author leads C-SPAN on tour of natural attractions

April 10, 2014
By MCKENZIE CASSIDY ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge and Lover's Key State Park are being featured on C-SPAN's "Cities Tour" on April 19-20 to promote the unique features of mid-sized cities like Fort Myers.

Sanibel Island author Charles Sobczak was contacted by C-SPAN producers Christy Hinton and Debbie Lamb last month to recommend two locations to be profiled from his award-winning book, The Living Gulf Coast A Nature Guide to Southwest Florida. Not only did Sobczak give them his picks and some background information, but he personally agreed to take the producers around in his 23-foot catamaran fishing boat.

They departed from the Sanibel Boat Ramp and after docking at Lover's Key, toured with federal park rangers, and spent the rest of their day recording pelicans and migratory birds on "Ding" Darling's Wildlife Drive.

Article Photos

Charles Sobczak. PHOTO PROVIDED.

"It was really fun and flattering," said Sobczak. "And I got a plug from the Lee County Library System."

Producers from C-SPAN had called the Lee County Library System inquiring about popular, informative local books, and staff recommended a number of titles including Uncommon Friends by James Newton and Sobczak's The Living Gulf Coast.

The Living Gulf Coast is a one-stop manual of local flora and fauna. It was awarded the Gold Medal for the Best Work of Adult Non-Fiction in 2011 by the Florida Publisher's Association and has continually been a best-selling regional title. The City of Sanibel recently purchased enough copies of Living Sanibel, a companion book, to provide to every current and new employee as a guide to living on the island.

"It's like an operating manual to the island," said Sobczak, who also writes a weekly nature column in The Islander.

C-SPAN has been deploying local content vehicles (LCVs) since it started the Cities Tour in 2011 and has visited 42 cities ranging from Tallahassee, Fla., to Chattanooga, Tenn.

Susan Swain, CEO of C-SPAN, said the network has two primary goals with the Cities Tour.

"The first is to more systematically go beyond the Washington beltway for our non-fiction book and history programming and highlight for our national audiences some of the unique culture and history of the cities we visit," she said in a prepared statement. "Secondly, with our LCV project engaging the grass-roots, we are continuing our long tradition of partnering with affiliates in their communities."

After premiering on April 19-20, the program will be archived for future generations.

For more information on the Cities Tour, visit And to learn more about The Living Gulf Coast, visit



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