Protection for Big Cypress National Preserve Ensured in Latest Court Decision
March 14, 2005
Big Cypress National Preserve in southern Florida is one of the largest areas of wild, open space in the eastern United States. The 729,000 acre preserve adjacent to the Everglades provides habitat and shelter for more than 90 rare plants and animals listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, including the Florida panther and West Indian manatee. However, several studies have extensively documented how unlimited off-road vehicle (ORV) use in the preserve has harmed endangered plants and animals, caused soil erosion, destroyed vegetation, and polluted waterways. In response to the damage, the National Park Service implemented a new management plan that limited ORV use in the most critical areas wildlife need to survive and established an ORV trail system to mitigate the other problems.
Unfortunately, the Park Service’s efforts to conserve America’s natural heritage were attacked with a frivolous lawsuit by off-road vehicle users in 2001. Sierra Club, along with other environmental partners, intervened in the suit to help the Park Service defend its science-based plan to conserve Big Cypress. On February 22, 2005, United States District Judge John Steele ruled in favor of the Park Service holding that the plan was adopted in compliance with all requirements of federal law. The ruling is a victory for responsible management of our park system that allows continued ORV access but which continues to protect the sensitive areas for generations to come. Luckily, Big Cypress, which had been a poster child of devastating impacts caused by unlimited ORV use, will now serve as a model plan for other parks.
Details and Documents:
Big Cypress Decision
February 22, 2005
Florida District Judge Ruling Protects Big Cypress National Preserve
February 23, 2005, Sierra Club Press Release
See other "Promoting Resilient Habitats" cases.