Victory for Critically Endangered Florida Panther and Big Cypress National Preserve
July 11, 2012
Wildlife conservation groups applaud a federal district court decision that restores protection for wetlands and the habitat of critically endangered Florida panthers. The decision overturns a 2007 move by the National Park Service to open more than 20 miles of trails in in the Bear Island Unit of south Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve to off-road vehicles (ORVs). The Service elected to allow the ORV use in the preserve despite its classification as a “high impact recreational activity” responsible for rutting, damage to soils, destruction of plants and roots, and endangered species disturbance.
Opening the Bear Island trails to ORV use would have resulted in degradation of lands used by the endangered Florida panther. Once ranging across the entire southeastern United States, the only known breeding population of Florida panthers exists in southern Florida. Today the Florida panther is estimated to number 100 to 160 adult animals. Habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation are identified as the greatest threats to panther survival.
Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Humane Society, National Parks Conservation Association, Florida Biodiversity Project, The Wilderness Society, and Wildlands CPR brought a lawsuit challenging the Service’s decision.
The plaintiffs were represented in the lawsuit by Washington, D.C. public interest law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal.
Details and Documents:
Federal Court Rejects National Park Service Decision to Open More Off-Road Vehicle Trails in Big Cypress National Preserve
July 11, 2012, Sierra Club et al. Press ReleaseOpinion and Order
July 10, 2012, United States District Judge John E. SteeleNews Articles:
Judge shuts some Big Cypress trails to swamp buggies
July 11, 2012 by David Fleshler, Sun Sentinel
See other "Promoting Resilient Habitats" cases.