Court Orders Portion of Bear Island ORV Trails Closed

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Date: July 23, 2012
Contact: Bob DeGross, 239-695-1107

On July 10, Judge John E. Steele of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division, ruled that trails in the Bear Island Unit of Big Cypress National Preserve that were opened to Off Road Vehicles (ORV) in 2007 must be closed within 14 days.

In making the ruling in a lawsuit brought by several environmental groups, the judge found that the Preserve's 2007 changes to the ORV trail network deserved a new review under the National Environmental Policy Act and were not covered under an earlier review.

The Preserve is already fully compliant with the judge's order as these backcountry trails were closed last month as part of the annual 60-day ORV closure.When the Preserve's other ORV trails are re-opened to ORV use on August 3, the Bear Island trails that were added in 2007 will remain closed.

"The judge's opinion and order was very clear," said Preserve Superintendent Pedro Ramos."Given our annual summer closure, the Preserve is already in full compliance with the court's order.We will be working with ORV users and other visitors and stakeholders to ensure that everyone is aware of the change in trail use at Bear Island.We are also continuing our review of the judge's order and will be determining our next steps in the weeks ahead. "

This ruling closes 22.7 miles of primary and secondary trails in the Bear Island Unit. After taking the prescribed action approximately 21 miles of trails will remain open to ORV use within Bear Island. The Preserve has a total of 270 miles of primary and 140 miles of secondary designated ORV trails.

For details on trails in the Bear Island Unit that will be open to ORV use, and to view the court order click here.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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