Last week, construction began to build a new parking lot for the Tarpon Bay recreation area. The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge was able to set aside funding in order to complete the anticipated project. The current parking lot was created in the early 2000s but has endured considerable wear and tear. “We are very excited to see the completed project,” elated General Manger and part-owner, Wendy Schnapp. “We anticipate the new parking lot to fulfill visitors’ expectations and make navigating parking and launching vessels a more accessible experience,” explained Schnapp.

Tarpon Bay Explorers, the concession to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and current occupant of the recreation area, will remain open while the parking lot experiences improvement. However, there will be a time frame when motorized launches will not be able to launch as the ramp to Tarpon Bay will be blocked due to the construction. The current time frame for the temporary motorized launch closure is yet to be finalized, but notice will be provided to the general public seven days ahead. “An updated Tarpon Bay parking lot will enhance visitors’ experience and help the concession more successfully accomplish their mission to educate visitors about the Refuge along with the fauna and flora that inhabit it,” commented Kevin Godsea, Project Leader of Southwest Florida’s Refuge Complex.

Tarpon Bay Explorers is the concession to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The company provides informative, guided tours and recreational activities within the Refuge. Visit or call their gift shop at 239-472-8900 for more information.