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Rotary Happenings: Rotary learns about some ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Refuge facts

By Staff | Mar 9, 2016

Rotarians are almost back to normal after a couple of hectic weeks of fund raising activities; well, normal may not actually be the correct adjective for this group.

We were still recuperating from our 33rd Annual Arts and Crafts Fair, when Sanibel-Captiva and Snowbird Rotarians were out-in-force to cheer on Rotarian, John Danner at the “Cooking with the Islands Stars” fundraising event for the Sanibel Community House.

Although Chef Danner did not receive bragging rights for the coveted title of “Cooking with the Islands Stars Champion 2016” he did bring down the house with heart-felt memories about his mother teaching him her recipe for “Mom’s Bolognese” and realizing later in life, this recipe was not exactly authentic Italian cuisine.

He then proceeded to sing an original song penned in honor of his Mom titled “Thank You Mother for Teaching Me to Cook.”

It was a great fun evening and raised a lot of money toward the renovation, restoration, and refitting of the Sanibel Community House. Look for construction to start very soon.

Thank You, to our Snowbird Rotarians for their generous support in the form of a ten-thousand dollar check presented to the Sanibel Community House at “Cooking with the Islands Stars” in support of this project.

Jumping on and slightly in another direction our club speaker schedule is jammed packed with some great guest speakers for our regular Friday morning meetings.

This past week, we welcomed Paul Tritaik-Project Manager at the J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel.

Tritaik began his talk with a little history lesson highlighting the early conservation movement here in the United States.

Although there have always been conservationist in every part of the world through history, the conservationist movement here in the States really took hold during the late 1800s and 1900s.

During this time, it was evident that something had to be done about unrestricted hunting of our country”s wildlife and destructions of our natural environmental resources.

It was fashionable during this time-period for women to adorn their hats and clothing with bird feather, so much so that bird populations were being depleted.

Over-hunting of Bison were quickly depleting the herds and threatening their extinction. Sea mammals were being over harvested.

Although there were federal actions in the 1800s, it wasn’t until the very early 1900s that a plan seemed necessary to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

A plan was hatched by members of the Boone and Crockett Club, a hunting club founded in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt and friends with strong interest in conserving fish and wildlife populations and other natural resources for future generations.

In 1901 the American Omithologist Union and the National Association of Audubon Societies (now the National Audubon Society) helped pass a model non-game bird protection law.

This resulted in the initial Federal land namely, Pelican Island, set aside as a refuge for brown pelican. President Roosevelt issued 51 executive orders establishing wildlife reservations in 17 states and three territories by the end of his administration in 1901. There are now 50 national wildlife refuges.

Management of these refuge areas became necessary. Proposed bills for an established “Refuge System,” a Migratory Bird Refuge Commission, and a one-dollar Federal hunting stamp was brought before Congress.

It took eight years, before a much-revised bill passed.

Theodore Roosevelt inspired a nation to conservation during his presidency at the turn of the century, but it didn’t take long for his ideals to slip. By the 1930s, ill-advised farming practices encouraged by the federal government led to the Dust Bowl.

The lid had come off of the prairie and Iowa cartoonist Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling began the vision for what would become the National Wildlife Federation.

Ding Darling saw the impact from the Dust Bowl first hand as an avid waterfowl hunter and he began letting people know about it. His cartoons and conservation ethic caught the attention of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who appointed him the head of the U.S. Biological Survey in 1934 (the forerunner to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

Next week’s column will continue this column focusing in on the J. N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club meets at 7:00 a.m., Friday mornings at the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, Sanibel. Guests are always welcomed.