Comments Filed Seeking Wilderness Protection And ORV Trail System Reduction in Big Cypress National Preserve

Late last week, on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, South Florida Wildlands Association, and Friends of the Everglades, we submitted extensive public comments to the National Park Service (“NPS”) concerning its proposal to increase the spatial extent of the off-road vehicle (“ORV”) trail system in Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve.  All of the action alternatives being considered by NPS would significantly expand ORV use in the Preserve, and in the process damage the fragile natural resources located there including hydrological, vegetative, soil, and wildlife resources such as the highly endangered Florida panther.  NPS’s proposal—if one of the action alternatives is ultimately adopted—would substantially roll back the protections previously put in place by NPS in its 2000 ORV Management Plan for the Preserve, and would also undermine the legal victories obtained by our firm wherein federal judges have ordered NPS to shut down ORV trails passing through sensitive portions of the Preserve and thereby causing unacceptable levels of resource damage.  In our comments, we have requested that NPS consider action alternatives that would reduce the spatial extent of the existing ORV trail system and that would present to Congress a recommendation to permanently designate all wilderness-eligible acres in the Preserve as Wilderness Areas for unimpaired use by future generations of Americans.  Our comments can be found here.