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'Ding' Darling National Wildlife Refuge looking to purchase expansion property on Sanibel

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Posted at 11:24 AM, Feb 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-15 11:25:38-05

SANIBEL, Fla. -- The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge announced its campaign to raise $9.5 million to purchase 68 acres of Sanibel property adjacent to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge at a fundraiser this week.

The ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Society has an opportunity to further the land preservation legacy of ‘Ding’ Darling with a potential purchase of a 68-acre parcel known as Wulfert Bayous, which is currently permitted by the city of Sanibel for the owner to develop up to 29 large homes.

DDWS is seeking $3 million in private charitable donations for the purchase.

On Nov. 6, 2018, the Lee County Board of Commissioners voted in favor of exploring the acquisition and has asked county staff to pursue the possibility of Conservation 20/20 funding. DDWS also is looking into state funding and grants from the BP Horizon Spill as other alternative funding sources toward the remaining $6.5 million needed.

So far from private donors, DDWS has raised $2 million toward the minimum $3 million it will need to raise in order to receive support from other funding sources.

Refuge officials say the acreage along Wulfert Road and Sanibel-Captiva Road is home to a number of species, including eagles, bobcats, gopher tortoises, and rare plants. It is also a stopover for migrating neo-tropical birds.

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