The public had a chance to see and walk the new Wildlife Education Boardwalk on the afternoon of Aug. 12, following a short ribbon-cutting ceremony at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
Originally called the Children’s Education Boardwalk, the new 300-foot boardwalk connects Indigo Trail to a fence at the perimeter of The Sanibel School. (For security reasons, a locked gate will separate it from the school.)
The refuge has renamed the trail to reflect its appeal to wildlife-lovers of all ages and the replicated animal tracks and scat that will be added in Phase 2 of completion.
The boardwalk, constructed primarily with recyclable materials, crosses a brackish wetland heretofore inaccessible to the public.
A two-level, covered observation deck creates an outdoor classroom, where school groups can congregate and refuge visitors can learn more about the habitat they are seeing — up-close views of alligators, wading birds, and other refuge fauna and flora.
While Wildlife Drive access to the boardwalk remains closed through September 2013, the public will be able to enter the structure by special tour every Thursday at 10 a.m. beginning Aug. 22.
Funds for the project were raised by the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge. Donations came from Jim Sprankle Duck Decoy Exhibit sponsorships, the George & Miriam Martin Foundation, and memorials to the late Win Kloosterman, Significant support also came from special events and other individual gifts.
For more information about tours and programs at the Wildlife Education Boardwalk, please contact Ranger Becky Wolff at 239-472-1100 ext. 236.
Image courtesy "Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge