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‘Ding’ Darling opens Bailey Tract, Tarpon Bay ramp

September 12, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel reopened both the Bailey Tract and the boat ramp at the Tarpon Bay Recreation Area on Sept. 1.

The trails at Bailey Tract reopen to hikers and bicyclists following a three-month marsh habitat restoration project. Because of the tract's popularity, the refuge had opted to do the work during the slower summer months, but has now reopened it for full, free public use.

The project included hydrologic enhancements that benefit most of the wildlife that inhabits the tract. Species such as secretive marsh birds, the Sanibel Island rice rat, and others dependent on cordgrass marsh habitats will benefit as a result, officials say.

Article Photos

On Aug. 24, refuge staff planted about 9,500 plugs of native marsh cordgrass (spartina) in preparation for the Bailey Tract reopening, which took place on Sept. 1.

The project partially restored the historic hydrology and original marsh habitat of the Bailey Tract, a unit of the refuge located on Tarpon Bay Road.

At the Tarpon Bay Recreation Area, the boat ramp is opened for non-motorized ($7 fee) and motorized ($10 fee) boat launching available through Tarpon Bay Explorers, the refuge's recreation concession.

The ramp had been closed for nearly two years because of conflicts associated with the construction of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation marine lab and replacement of two sea walls and a boat dock at Tarpon Bay Explorers. The new lab, a partnership between the refuge and SCCF to enhance water quality monitoring in the refuge and beyond, was completed in August along with the sea walls and dock.



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