National Wildlife Refuge Week, End of the Day painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

Jo-Ann Sanborn Daily

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I love a win-win partnership and that's just what's being celebrated in Collier County this week. It's National Refuge Week, and shared funding between the Florida Department of Transportation Enhancement Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge Roads Program and the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast Refuge Complex has provided new access to the Marsh Trail at the north end of the 10,000 Islands Wildlife Refuge.

The improvements include a parking lot, an information kiosk, a boardwalk leading to the trail, a watercraft ramp. There will be a handicap accessible observation tower by the end of November. The new access will be of particular interest to kayakers, who can glide through the marsh grasses silently, really becoming part of the landscape.

There are over 550 National Wildlife Refuge System properties throughout the US with the primary mission of wildlife protection and preservation. The first refuge was established over 100 years ago by Teddy Roosevelt at Florida's Pelican Island to protect birds from plume hunters who nearly decimated the population because the feathers were used in such large numbers on women's hats.

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No thoughts of feathery hats for these two. We were exhausted at the end of the first day for Artist Colony at the Esplanade, but filled with a great sense of satisfaction! Studio and gallery space has been cleansed with a sage smudge to get out any fail-store-cooties without triggering the fire alarms and we're welcoming friends old and new Wed-Sat. Hope you'll stop in!

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