Press Release Feb 4, 2011

Parks Group Disappointed by Administration's Decision Not to Protect Lands within Big Cypress National Preserve

Statement by NPCA Director of Legislative and Government Affairs Kristen Brengel

Background: Big Cypress National Preserve is a unique treasure within the National Park System. Big Cypress was created to preserve the natural beauty of a cypress swamp connected to the greater Everglades ecosystem and provide some access for hunting. The Addition Lands, protected 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 plan released today by the National Park Service, which undermines the protection of the unique resources of Big Cypress. The Park Service has chosen to open wilderness lands and Florida panther habitat to intensive motorized off-road vehicle use. For decades, these lands within Big Cypress National Preserve have been protected for the public to enjoy as a natural area–to hike and view wildlife among other activities. Now, a final decision has been made to carve 130 miles of new off-road vehicle trails through this Florida panther habitat.”

“This decision fails to uphold the conservation mission of the National Park Service. The plan casts aside laws and policies designed to preserve the natural beauty of the cypress swamp, and protect habitat for several endangered species such as the ghost orchid and Florida panther from an intrusive racetrack of trails and roadways.”

“Big Cypress National Preserve is a unique treasure for all Americans and was created to preserve and protect sensitive lands as well as to accommodate some access for hunting. The plan fails to protect this area as required.”

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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.