Statement by NPCA Sun Coast Regional Director John Adornato III
Background: Big Cypress National Preserve is a unique treasure within the U.S. National Park System. The Preserve was created to provide both access for hunting and off-road vehicles (ORV), as well as to preserve the natural beauty of a cypress swamp connected to the greater Everglades ecosystem. The Addition Lands, preserved in 1989, are nearly 150,000 acres of primary habitat for endangered species such as the Florida panther.
“The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is disappointed by the preferred alternative that the National Park Service released today, which disregards the unique resources of the Big Cypress Swamp. Unfortunately, rather than preserving rare and sensitive habitats that are home to the endangered Florida panther, the Park Service chose to maximize vehicular access in the area known as Mullet Slough. In the past, funding and staffing shortfalls have limited the Park Services’ ability to manage ORV use within the larger Big Cypress National Preserve and therefore, ORV use should not be introduced to the Addition Lands.
“In addition, NPCA recommends that the areas where swamp buggies and ATVs are banned should be designated as wilderness areas and responsibly managed as vital habitat by the Park Service. Contrary to the report, wilderness designation allows for appropriate wildfire access and the removal of exotic, invasive species and therefore is not in conflict with the stated goal of habitat restoration.
“NPCA urges the Park Service to revisit their decision prior to publishing the final plan and choose the appropriate measures that will protect endangered species, like the Florida panther, to preserve our national treasure for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.”
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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