provided to Santiva Chronicle
Tarpon Bay Explorers has announced its Tram Tours along Wildlife Drive of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge will tentatively resume Aug 4, with tours every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Fee collecting for Wildlife Drive will also resume Monday, Aug. 3.
“It’s been a while, around 140 days or so, since Tarpon Bay Explorers has provided a tram tour due to COVID-19,” said TBE General Manager and Part-Owner Wendy Schnapp. “Our Tram Tours are a great way for people to be introduced to the refuge and our naturalists do an excellent job providing the lay of the land with their depth of knowledge.”
The Tram Tours will look slightly different. To ensure the safety of employees and visitors, protective measures will be taken. The tours will operate at 50 percent capacity, 18 people maximum, and social distancing will be observed throughout all trips. Masks will be worn by employees while in proximity with visitors, such as during boarding and unloading.
The tours will also begin earlier at 8:30 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. Visitors can join the tour either at Tarpon Bay Explorers, 900 Tarpon Bay Rd., or at the tram booth in the parking lot of the refuge, 1 Wildlife Drive.
The refuge’s Visitor Education Center remains closed, but Tarpon Bay Explorers help staff the fee booth at the entrance of Wildlife Drive. These staff members further help visitors by providing information and selling entry passes for federal lands.
“Our drivers and fee both workers are excited to get back to work,” said Schnapp. “No one likes to be furloughed, so we are happy to be able to finally give them some good news.”
With the addition to the Tram Tours, Tarpon Bay Explorers will now have tour availability every day, with kayak tours, nature and sealife cruises, SUP tours offered throughout the week. Pontoon rentals, fishing charters, cayak, SUP and bike rentals are available throughout the week as well.
Tarpon Bay Explorers is the concession for the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The company provides all of the recreational and tour opportunities for the Refuge. Reservations are recommended for any guided tour like the Tram Tour. For any additional information or reservations, call their nature-themed gift shop at 239-472-8900 or visit their website at www.tarponbayexplorers.com