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Contact: Bob DeGross, 239-695-1107
Effective July 22, 2011, the National Park Service announces that off-road vehicle (ORV) use within all units of Big Cypress National Preserve will be along designated trail routes only. This move comes after the NPS selected and marked ORV trails within the Corn Dance Unit, the last unit within the original Preserve where dispersed ORV use was authorized until May of this year.
The National Park Service worked over the past ten years to implement the 2000 Off Road Vehicle Plan within the original portion of the Preserve, which encompasses approximately 580,000 acres. Established in 2007, a citizen based ORV Advisory Committee has provided valuable input to NPS during public meetings held every other month.
"This is a big and positive step," stated Pedro Ramos, Preserve Superintendent. "ORV use has long been a traditional form of accessing remote areas of the swamp." He went on to say that the elimination of dispersed ORV use and designation of the trails throughout the original Preserve will protect resources while allowing sustainable traditional access to the area as required by law.
"The process of designating the trail network was lengthy but at the end, we now have a good formula thanks to the significant involvement from the public, outstanding work of all the ORV Advisory Committee members and the relentless efforts from many dedicated Preserve employees," Ramos added.
With the designation of the trail system in the Corn Dance Unit all dispersed use of ORVs is discontinued within the Preserve. The National Park Service will continue to work closely with the public to ensure the trail network remains sustainable and continues to be improved over time.
This action is being taken concurrently with the lifting of the annual 60-day recreational ORV closure in all areas of Big Cypress National Preserve that allow for ORV access. This includes access by swamp buggies, ATVs, street legal 4x4s and airboats. All ORV access into the Preserve is by special permit only. For permitting questions contact 239-695-1205.
You can view maps of all designated trails within the Preserve by clicking here.