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Not happy with plans for Bailey Tract’s Ani Pond

By Staff | Apr 25, 2018

To the editor:

A year ago rumors began of a plan to fill in the Bailey Tract’s Ani Pond, a beloved part of the tract and an important habitat where many species of birds, as well as otters and alligators, are frequently seen. While there have been some small efforts at communicating plans to the public, they have been woefully unsuccessful and few people know what is to be done or why.

Last year, black-necked stilts nested in the pond and successfully raised three chicks. To see those chicks grow and eventually fledge was an awesome experience for those of us lucky enough to be here at that time. The stilts are nesting again in the same area this year – just as the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge plans to close the tract and fill in the pond.

It would be tragic (and contrary to the protection given these birds under the Migratory Bird Act) if the ridiculous notion of filling in the pond – which no one other than unknown bureaucrats at “Ding” Darling seem to want – were to jeopardize the stilts’ chance of successfully raising their young.

Many of us who are regular users of the Bailey Tract, as well as seasonal visitors who bird there, are seriously confused and disturbed at the plans to fill in the pond. We have been disgusted with the state of the tract this season, where digging machines have left what looks like an open-pit mine for a whole season, where once secretive ducks and rails were seen by those patient enough to search for them. Goodness knows what visitors think of that mess.

Perhaps it’s time the citizens of Sanibel let the people at “Ding” Darling know that they are not happy with what is going on by writing or calling or withholding donations. I still hope that Ani Pond will be saved and the mess that currently exists at the tract can be restored, for the sake of the birds and the enjoyment of birders and nature lovers, who make up a large portion of the tract’s users and supporters.

Lesley Anne Simmons