Lawsuit Filed To Protect Big Cypress National Preserve From Invasive ORV Use

Today, we filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on behalf of a coalition of national and local environmental organizations (Sierra Club, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Florida Biodiversity Project, South Florida Wildlands Association, and Wilderness Watch) seeking to overturn the National Park Service’s (“NPS”) decision to introduce extenstive Off-Road Vehicle (“ORV”) use and ORV-assisted hunting into the pristine Addition Lands of the Big Cypress National Preserve. The Addition Lands have for decades served as a place of solitude for hikers, nature photographers, and birdwatchers, whose experiences will be severely diminished by the hundreds of miles of ORV trails authorized by NPS’s decision. Not only did NPS for the first time authorize these environmentally destructive motorized uses in the Addition Lands, but they achieved that result by improperly excluding beautiful and pristine lands from a wilderness eligibility study, which allowed NPS to bypass recommending those areas to Congress for long-term preservation as wilderness for the public’s enjoyment of these lands in their natural state. The lawsuit also raises concerns with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Biological Opinion, which failed to address several key threats to the highly imperiled Florida panther, as well as other species. Here is a link to the press release, and here is a link to the complaint.