National Public Lands Day to be held at ‘Ding’
Help celebrate National Public Lands Day with J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Saturday, Sept. 22.
The day will include free admission to Wildlife Drive, which is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., discounts at Tarpon Bay Explorers and multiple activities. Narrated tram tours, which will run at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., at normal cost, are also available.
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Service Ranger Monica Scroggin said they have been celebrating the day every year on whichever day is selected.
“It’s a fun event,” she said.
The first event will kick off at 8:30 a.m. at the parking lot flag pole. Scroggin said she will lead a guided tour along Indigo Trail while picking up trash to the Wildlife Education Boardwalk.
The walk will conclude at 9:30 a.m., just in time for the beginning of the “Hidden Treasures of ‘Ding'” Caravan. Participants will follow a naturalist along Wildlife Drive, stopping for up-close and personal viewings.
Individuals are encouraged to bring water, sunscreen and insect repellant to both events.
Tarpon Bay Explorers will offer a 25 percent discount on bike, kayak and paddleboard rentals, starting at 8 a.m. A 25 percent discount will also be given to those who make reservations for the 8:30 a.m. Guided Kayak Tour. Reservations can be made by calling (239) 472-8900.
“It’s a great way to go and enjoy your public lands through Tarpon Bay Explorers,” Scroggin said.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. individuals can stop by the “Ding” Darling Visitor & Education Center Classroom for some make and take home crafts. Scroggin said they will be turning old CDs into turtles and gopher tortoises, making jelly fish out of pop bottles and snakes out of toilet paper rolls.
National Public Lands Day will also feature the Kick the Bottle Campaign.
“We are trying to reduce our use of plastic bottles,” Scroggin said.
This is the seventh year “Ding” has been celebrating the campaign.
The Refuge Nature Store sells Just Water, which are made of 82 percent reusable resources. The renewable resources are primarily “paperboard sourced from forests where new trees replace those harvested,” according to “Ding.” Individuals who purchase $10 or more at the refuge will receive a free bottle of Just Water when requested.
“It’s our way of making that much more of an impact on our environment,” Scroggin said. “We are doing something good for the environment. It’s nice that we offer them.”
“Ding” has water filling stations at the center, so individuals can reuse their Just Water bottles.
Participants of National Public Lands Day will also have an opportunity to pick up a pass that is good until next year’s National Public Lands Day. Scroggin said the pass can be used at any public lands throughout the nation. Those interested in picking up the pass are asked to request one at the Visitor Center front desk.
Guests will also have a chance to meet the mascot, Blue Goose, which will be in the Visitor & Education Center throughout the day.
For more information about the event call Scroggin at (239) 472-1100 ext. 237.