Free Wildlife Drive admission, activities to mark National Public Lands Day
The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge will celebrate National Public Lands Day on Sept. 22 with free admission to Wildlife Drive, discounts at Tarpon Bay Explorers and special activities.
Wildlife Drive opens at 7 a.m. for free touring and closes at 7 p.m. Narrated tram tours will run at normal cost at 10 a.m., 12:30 and 3 p.m. Always free, the Visitor & Education Center opens at 9 a.m.
Special free and discounted activities will take place at the refuge, including:
– 8:30 a.m.: Tarpon Bay Explorers will offer a 25 percent discount off of a guided kayak tour; reservations are recommended at 239-472-8900
– 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.: Guided tour and cleanup along Indigo Trail to the Wildlife Education Boardwalk; meet at the parking lot flagpole and bring water, sunscreen and insect repellant
– 9:30 to 11 a.m.: “Hidden Treasures of ‘Ding’ Caravan”; follow a naturalist along Wildlife Drive and stop for up-close personal viewings; meet at the parking lot flagpole and bring water, sunscreen and insect repellant
– 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Make-and-take recycled crafts in the Visitor & Education Center classroom
In addition, TBE will offer a 25 percent discount on bike, kayak and paddleboard rentals for the day.
In the Nature Store, the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge will give away a free Just Water bottle with a purchase of $10 or more, upon request. This year’s National Public Lands Day celebrates the seventh anniversary of the Kick the Bottle campaign, which rids the refuge of disposable plastic bottles. Just Water comes in a reusable container consisting of 82 percent renewable resources, which is primarily paperboard sourced from forests where new trees replace those harvested.
For more information, contact Ranger Monica Scroggin at 239-472-1100, ext. 237.