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Contact: Ardrianna Mclane, 239-695-1107
The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking public comments on a suite of preliminary alternatives for managing backcountry access and use within Big Cypress National Preserve. Concurrently with the review of preliminary alternatives, the NPS is also holding a scoping opportunity to receive public input related to the development of a wilderness study and potential wilderness proposal. Both the scoping period for the wilderness study and public review of the preliminary alternatives is open for public comment from January 11, 2016 to March 11, 2016.
In addition, two public workshops will be held to provide information on the preliminary alternatives so that the public can inform their comments related to the process. The first public workshop will be onWednesday, February 10, from5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.at the Tree Tops Broward County Park, 3900 SW 10th Ave, Davie FL 33328. The second will be onThursday, February 11, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center, 33000 Tamiami Trail East, Ochopee, FL 34141
While this review of preliminary alternatives is not a procedural requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the NPS is seeking feedback on the alternatives at this early stage in an effort to keep the planning process both public and transparent. Input received during this review period will be used to refine and finalize the range of alternatives that will be analyzed in the draft Big Cypress National Preserve Backcountry Access Plan / Wilderness Study / Environmental Impact Statement (BAP/WS/EIS). While alternatives for the wilderness study portion of the plan have not been identified, the input received during this scoping period will be used to develop a range of wilderness alternatives for public review in the Draft BAP/WS/EIS.
The preliminary alternatives and information on the wilderness study are available for public review and comment on the project website..
The five preliminary alternatives related to the Backcountry Access Plan were developed by a NPS interdisciplinary team. The preliminary alternatives are conceptual in nature and will continue to be refined based on public input and ongoing field work at the Preserve, including work on the Wilderness Study. Additionally, some possible ORV routes in the conceptual alternatives may be dropped from consideration if the Wilderness Study reveals them to be located in wilderness-eligible lands.
The first alternative (Alternative 1) is the no-action alternative, which reflects a continuation of current management practices within the Preserve. The other four alternatives (Alternatives 2 through 5) constitute the action alternatives and were developed based on public and stakeholder input, as well as feedback from all levels of the National Park Service. They are alternative approaches to management and operations within the Preserve and represent the diversity of suggestions received during the scoping process.
"It is important to note that a preferred alternative has not been identified, nor have the impacts of the preliminary alternatives been analyzed at this stage of the planning process. Once fully developed, one of these alternatives could be identified as the National Park Service preferred alternative, or a new alternative could emerge that combines elements from some or all of the preliminary alternatives" said Big Cypress National Preserve Superintendent Tammy Whittington.
Comments can be provided online at the project website or by mail to - Superintendent, Big Cypress National Preserve, 33100 Tamiami Trail East, Ochopee, Florida 34141-1000.
For questions related to this process, please contact Bob DeGross via email or at 239-695-1107.
While submitting comments, before including an address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.