“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) recently closed on a 21.5-acre acquisition of land adjacent to Bay Drive — between Isabel Drive and the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club on Sanibel Island — thanks to a generous donation from the family Pine Rock Foundation of Minneapolis, Minn..


The parcel was originally part of a 75-acre historic property along bay shores owned by the Symroski pioneer family. Through the generations, the family sold off parcels of the homesteaded property, much of which became neighborhood communities.


“Continuing the 42-year legacy of the ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Society in conservation, protection, and education is what this is all about, and we are so thrilled to help preserve this important stretch of island green space, which is vital habitat, in perpetuity.,” said DDWS Board of Directors president Bill Harkey. “It is important for the wildlife, and it will also enhance efforts for storm resilience and benefit island residents for generations.”


Two conservation plots bookend the Bay Drive property, which will complete a critical wildlife corridor through mostly undeveloped land planted with mangroves and other native vegetation and frequented by gopher tortoises, bobcats, screech owls, and myriad other varieties of birds and reptiles. DDWS plans to locate a trail web cam in the depths of the property to track wildlife activity for research and education.


“We see what’s happening now at South Seas Resort with changes in density and feel like we all need to work harder to prevent overdevelopment for the benefit of Sanibel’s commitment to conservation and nature,” said Harkey. “We feel this is especially appropriate as the city approaches its 50th anniversary of incorporation this November. With so little land remaining on Sanibel and Captiva, we strongly feel the more we can protect, the better.”


If you are interested in donating or offering land for purchase as part of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge or “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society holdings, please contact DDWS executive director Ann-Marie Wildman at [email protected].



As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research, and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop profits. To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit dingdarlingsociety.org or Ann-Marie Wildman at 239-789-8991 or [email protected].