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03/24/2011

Sierra Club Moves to Protect Big Cypress National Preserve

Earlier this month, a coalition of groups including the Sierra Club filed a Notice of Intent to Sue against the National Park Service for various Endangered Species Act violations in the Big Cypress Preserve.  Big Cypress is a 720,000 acre, ecologically rich area directly adjacent to the Everglades National Park.  The preserve acts as a vital connecting corridor between federally protected lands and is vital habitat for the 100 Florida panthers left in the wild.  Safeguarding the preserve is a key component of our efforts to protect and restore the Everglades in Florida.

Big cypress
Image courtesy of the National Park Service

This past February, the Park Service approved a management plan for 147,000 acres in the northeastern corner of the preserve.  The plan would allow for hundreds of miles of roads for off-road vehicle use to crisscross the area, an action that would be extremely destructive to this fragile wetland ecosystem.  The area is essentially the largest remaining tract of undesignated wilderness in Florida and also provides a home to the endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker and Indigo Snake.

The Everglades is already one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world due to climate change, encroaching development and water pollution.  We hope that the Park Service can choose a management alternative that maximizes wilderness protections, disallows any ORV use, and puts an emphasis on restoration and resource preservation.

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