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‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Refuge expands with land donation

By Staff | Dec 30, 2015

The 9.1-acre land donation parcel is located on Sanibel Island near Clam Bayou and Bowman’s Beach. Graphic provided by Ding Darling Wildlife Society

A 9.1-acre parcel of land on Sanibel Island near Clam Bayou and Bowman’s Beach will now be ensured to stay preserved and not developed to house a single-family dwelling, after the piece was donated to the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge.

The land donation was made Monday, Dec. 7, by the National Investment and Development Corporation.

“The land provides great habitat for lots of wildlife,” said John McCabe, who is on the DDWS board and oversaw negotiations on the land acquisition. “We know there is an osprey nest on it and gopher tortoises, while the land is surrounded by mangroves, which can attract the Mangrove Cuckoo bird.”

Lots of shorebirds also inhabit the 9.1-acre of land, which is not accessible by car. It was originally slotted to house a single-family dwelling, but now after the donation, it will remain development-free.

“The board feels it’s important to help the refuge preserve as much of the dwindling island habitat as it can, since federal budget cuts preclude government acquisitions,” said Doris Hardy, the DDWS president. “We are extremely grateful to National Investment and Development Corporation for helping us achieve our goals.”

McCabe added when there are land donations to the refuge, there are two main motivations behind them. The first being the tax incentives gained.

“But also, it’s a good thing to do and it’s something people want to do,” McCabe said.

The parcel of land which was donated was privately owned “for quite sometime” and it sits near the newly developed Sanibel Bayous.

“It’s a superb location for gopher tortoise habitat and also for mangrove habitat,” McCabe said. “The refuge will clear all invasive (plant) species out and will maintain it when it is needed.”

The Clam Bayou donation counts as the second land parcel acquired by DDWS in the past few years. In 2013, the group raised $1.4 million to purchase 6.56 acres of land fronting Tarpon Bay at Woodring Point.

“The land which was acquired sits at the mouth of Tarpon Bay and the Refuge thought it was important to acquire it beaches there were five beach-front homes being planned to be built,” McCabe said. “There are many rookery islands only accessible by boat and there is only one dock to access the area.

“The land acquisition can save the Refuge up to four hours per day by stationing their biology boat and equipment there.”

McCabe also gave props to attorney Marc Giattini, who has volunteered his time for the land acquisitions and has done so for the last 20 years.

“He has worked for the society without asking for a dime,” McCabe said.

For more information about the work of DDWS or about land donation, can contact DDW executive director Birgie Miller at 239-292-0566.