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Discussion Starter #1

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2001
Section: LOCAL
Page: 6B

By Patrick Reyna The Associated Press
The National Park Service is closing Big Cypress National Preserve to off-road vehicles for 45 days this summer to ease pressure on the Everglades reserve in a move opposed by hunters.
Off-road vehicles will be banned starting July 6 under a park management plan recently adopted in response to a congressional call for vehicle regulation in the park.
"The National Park Service has a congressional mandate to restore the wilderness character of the preserve, and a period without motorized vehicles will help us meet that obligation," preserve superintendent John Donahue said in a statement on Friday.
The management plan calls for a 60-day ban, which Donahue plans to impose in full next year. For now, he said he would allow extra scouting time for hunters.
A national hunters' rights group sued the Interior Department in January over vehicle restrictions imposed last year limiting drivers to 400 miles of trails and 15 access points.
About 2,250 off-road vehicle owners have federal permits to ride, mostly for so-called swamp buggies, homemade contraptions with high-rise seating above marshy waters.
Those restrictions amounted to "a political move, and we have a problem with that," Doug Jeanneret, a spokesman with the Wildlife Conservation Fund of America, said at the time.
There was no response on Saturday to messages seeking comment from the Columbus, Ohio-based group or from Jeanneret.
Big Cypress' 729,000 acres are home to more than 90 protected animal and plant species, notably the endangered Florida panther.
For the second straight year, the preserve is among 10 federal parks considered the most threatened by overcrowding, air pollution and urban sprawl. That list was compiled by the National Park and Conservation Association, a private park advocacy group.

2,912 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Dear Friends:

FYI, retyped below is an NPS news release. (Don't shoot the messenger.)
Please understand we are doing everything we can to turn things around.
We'll just have to endure the current ORV plan until then. In the coming
days and weeks I'll be turning to you for help with letters, calls, etc.
Please let me know if you want to be removed from my Sportsmen's Notice list.

Barbara Jean
Everglades Protection Society
Everglades Coordinating Council


Big Cypress National Preserve
CONTACT: Sandra Snell-Dobert
(941) 695-1107

Superintendent John Donahue announced today that Big Cypress National
Preserve will close to all off-road vehicle use for a 45-day period beginning
July 6. The recently adopted Recreational Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan
calls for a sixty-day seasonal closure to allow a period free from any
resource pressures related to ORV use. Using adaptive management principles
in the implementation of the management plan, the closure will be limited to
45-day this year in order to not interfere with the ability of hunters to
scout prior to the fall hunting season. Next year, the seasonal closure will
be the full 60 days called for in the plan and is scheduled for June 15
through August 15. This closure does not apply to landowners that hold
special use permits to access their private properties through the Preserve.

Donanue said, "Motorized travel in the Preserve is minimal at this time of
year, therefore the closure will inconvenience very few people and will
benefit the resource. The National park Service has a congressional mandate
to restore the wilderness character of the Preserve and a period without
motorized vehicles will help us meet that obligation."

In addition, the Bear Island Unit, including Bear Island Campground, will be
closed to all uses for road and trail maintenance and repair beginning
Friday, June 29. The area is scheduled to reopen to camping and day use for
non-motorized activities before the end of the 45-day ORV closure.

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