‘Ding’ Darling celebrates National Public Lands Day, debut of new stamp
On Sept. 24, the entire nation will participate in National Public Land’s Day including Sanibel Island’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. As the nation’s largest, single day volunteer event for public lands, the event calls for people of all ages to connect to America’s great outdoors and care for the country’s public lands.
“National Public Lands Day is a day for us all to celebrate conservation lands that are preserved for all of us to enjoy,” said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland. “Here at ‘Ding’ Darling Refuge visitors can come out to the refuge free of charge, attend a program and enjoy their public land.”
This year’s National Public Lands Day supports the efforts of Let’s Move Outside, a program of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. To celebrate National Public Lands Day, the refuges has special activities planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 24, which includes an iNature Trail demonstration along Wildlife Drive. Using 21st Century technology, the refuge added its interactive nature trail allowing visitors to scan QR (Quick Response) codes and view interactive videos.
“Bring your smart phone to get started by a ranger on the new trail,” said Westland. “Meet the ranger in the education center to caravan out to the trail.”
To honor the debut of “Save the Vanishing Species” stamp featuring the Amur tiger cub, J.N. “Ding” Darling is partnering with Sanibel (A) Postmaster Debbie Howard to raise awareness of the fund-raising postage stamp.
“It is important to protect all species since we are all linked to this important land,” said Westland. “Just as clean water, air and land is important to us, it is also critical to the survival of all species, including us, on this planet. It shouldn’t just be Earth day that we celebrate our great world, but also days like this, National Public Lands Day.”
Vanishing species such as tigers, African and Asian elephants, rhinos, great apes and marine turtles will benefit from funds raised through stamp sales. Five million stamp sheets will be printed initially and reprints will be based on customer demand. Net proceeds from the sales 55 cents each or $11 for a sheet of 20 stamps will go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support its Multinational Species Conservation Funds.
Until 12:30 p.m. a representative from the U.S. Postal Service will be located next to the “Ding” Darling Refuge Nature Store to sell Save the Vanishing Species stamps. A drawing will be held for a framed art picture of the commemorative stamps. For each sheet of stamps purchased, one ticket will be available for the drawing.
The semi-postal stamp is the fourth of its type issued by the postal service. These stamps provide a convenient way for the American public to contribute to help protect threatened and vanishing species.
The Multinational Species Coalition an alliance of 16 animal conservation groups with 15 million members representing conservationists, zoos, veterinarians, humane interests, circuses and sportsmen has been created to support the funds designated by Congress. The coalition also is committed to bringing greater attention to the Save Vanishing Species semi-postal stamp to help raise money for its cause.
Let’s Move Outside promotes a healthier and more active lifestyle for all family members. The volunteer experience of National Public Lands Day allows children to explore and enjoy the outdoors while benefiting the community.
“In an increasingly urban, technology-focused world, more Americans of all ages are becoming disconnected from the natural world,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “National Public Lands Day gives us especially our children an opportunity to get outside and lend a hand to help conserve our public lands and fish and wildlife resources.”
In 2010, 170,000 volunteers worked at more than 2,080 public land sites in every state, the District of Columbia and in many U.S. territories to remove trash and invasive plants, build trails and plant trees and other native plants.
Eight federal agencies, nonprofits and state, regional and local governments participate in National Public Lands Day, a day when people can visit all federal lands including the Service’s national wildlife refuges without paying an entry fee. On Sept. 24, visitors of “Ding” Darling will be able to access Wildlife Drive and visit the education center at no cost.
“This is a great way to take advantage of this opportunity to come back and visit if it’s been a while since they have visited,” said Westland. “Everyday is different, new and exciting at the refuge.”