National Parks Conservation Association Lauds New Restrictions to Protect Big Cypress National Preserve from Off-road Vehicles

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   October 3, 2000
Contact:   Mary Munson, NPCA South Florida Regional Director, 954-926-6327


National Parks Conservation Association Lauds New Restrictions to Protect Big Cypress National Preserve from Off-road Vehicles

Hollywood, FL - "Big Cypress National Preserve has always been one of the National Park System's dirty little secrets," says Mary Munson, South Florida regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association. "The new reforms in off-road-vehicle use give hope to everyone who cares about protecting the preserve in the healthiest state possible. Management must be designed with all users in mind, including users of future generations. The era of hunters dictating policy in Big Cypress is at an end. The preserve will evolve from a symbol of motorized destruction to a model of sustainable use."

"Conservationists welcome the plan with open arms in part because it offers protection for the habitat of endangered species such as the Florida panther and Cape Sable seaside sparrow," Munson says. "The effects of off-road vehicles on wildlife will be monitored. If the vehicles jeopardize wildlife, the plan can be refined. We strongly support this flexible and environmentally sensible approach."

The plan, signed last week by National Park Service Director Robert Stanton, Regional Director Jerry Belsun, and Superintendent John Donahue, limits the number of off-road-vehicle (ORV) users and exerts a system-wide set of controls on ORV access. Hunting is allowed in Big Cypress, where too many hunters use heavy swamp buggies that tear up fragile soils and vegetation. The plan will limit these heavy vehicles to less than 400 miles of maintained trails, prohibit their use in thousands of acres of fragile prairies, and institute an ambitious permitting and operator-education program. The plan will also restrict airboats in areas inhabited by the endangered Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow.

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