Big Cypress National Preserve Gains 29,000 Acres From State of Florida

The state of Florida has transferred 29,000 acres to Big Cypress National Preserve, fulfilling a promise made back in the 1970s. NPS file photo.

A promise made decades ago has finally been kept in Florida, where officials have approved the transfer of 29,000 acres of land to Big Cypress National Preserve.

The land, surrounded by the national preserve, was promised by state officials back in the 1970s when Big Cypress was designated as the first preserve in the National Park System. Last week state officials voted unanimously to transfer the acreage to the preserve.

"The state's action is welcomed as it largely fulfills the commitment by several Florida governors as well as the intent of past and current senators and congressmen representing the people of Florida," said Big Cypress Superintendent Pedro Ramos. "Our partnership with the State of Florida is strong and we are fully committed to working with agencies such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Forestry as we continue to be good stewards of the land together and into the future."

Big Cypress was created by an act of Congress in 1974 and in full partnership with and through significant land contributions from the State of Florida. These are not the only lands pending transfer from the state, however. There are more than 10,000 acres of School Board lands remaining to be transferred and the NPS will continue working with the State of Florida towards that end.

Preserve officials recently released the final General Management Plan for the Addition Lands within Big Cypress. The state's action opens the door for the Park Service to move forward with the implementation of the plan, which allows for recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, ORV use, hiking, and camping among others, Big Cypress officials said in a release.

Comments

I've seen the Big Cypress Preserve portions that are open to ORV, hunting, etc. It's a wasteland of mud and giant tire tracks. That was in the mid 80s though, so hopefully it's begun to recover from that. Can't help wondering if this former state land will actually be less protected now that it's in "national preserve" status, which we all know means "use" and "abuse" - not preserve.

Actually, this deal was supposed to happen last September. The State of Florida delayed the decision until they were sure that state lands would not later become designated federal wilderness. The National Park Service's decision (released the day before Thanksgiving) to open up the Big Cypress Addition Lands to 130 miles of off-road vehicle trails seems to have satisfied their concerns.

Too bad state officials didn't take the time to learn more about the benefits of wilderness - and understand that hunting and necessary management activities are allowed. Recreational motor vehicles (which have degraded resources throughout the preserve) are not. At any rate - most of the preserve was already open to vehicles before this decision. When the management plan for the Additon is implemented, almost all of it will be. See article on the Addition Lands here -

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/palm-beach/fl-big-cypress-hunting-20101124,0,1278629.story

From USA Today on the delay -

Tallahassee — Gov. Crist, an independent, and the Cabinet delayed action on a proposal to donate nearly 30,000 acres of state lands to the Big Cypress National Preserve because the National Park Service has not yet completed a management plan for the land. Officials are worried the plan might prohibit hunting, the eradication of invasive species and use of mechanical firefighting equipment.