Published: Jan 15, 2013 6:08 PM EST
Updated: Jan 16, 2013 6:27 PM EST

SANIBEL, Fla.- Some sought after waterfront property on Sanibel Island is going up for sale, and conservationists are calling first dibs. The Ding Darling Wildlife Society- Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) wants to preserve the small piece of property near the sanctuary.

The 6.56 acre parcel commands $3 million, and could be developed to up to 5 homes and respective boat docks.

"For a manatee sanctuary and endangered small tooth sawfish and so many marine mammals the docks can be very difficult for our wildlife," DDWS Director Birgie Vertesch said.

The land, which borders the refuge, is called Woodring Point. It was homesteaded by the Woodring family in the early 1800's. Without federal funding, the fund raising arm of the wildlife refuge is working to raise private donations. Vertesch says the group wants to raise $1.4 million to pay for half the property, with the rest coming from Lee County's 20/20 conservation fund. As part of the campaign, the society would raise $400,000 to upgrade the education center.

"The wildlife can't speak for themselves, so we take it upon ourselves to do things like this and where federal funds fall short, it's great that our friends group, the Ding Darling Wildlife Society can step up along with all these generous people to help save this land," Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland said.

As of Tuesday, DDWS had raised $725,000 towards its $1.8 million goal. The group set a "time-sensitive" fundraising deadling of September 2013.

To learn more or to pledge a donation, contact Director Birgie Vertesch at (239) 292-0566 or