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Contact: Bob DeGross, 239-695-1107
Big Cypress National Preserve will re-open to all ORV access beginning on Friday, July 31, 2009. Recreational ORV use was suspended in the Preserve during an annual 60 day closure period as outlined in the 2000 Recreational ORV Access Plan. Visitors wishing to access the backcountry of the Preserve with an ORV are reminded that they must have the appropriate training, permits and inspections to do so.
Also on the 31st access to the Burns Lake Trail will be permanently moved from the end of Burns Lake Road to the northern end of the Burns Lake Campground. Over the years the original configuration of the trail access at the end of the road created conflicts between visitors, residents and traffic, warranting this change in operations.
The Burns Lake site is now designed with backcountry access at the northern end of the lake. The access point provides parking for tow vehicles and ORV trailers, as well as parking for vehicles without trailers, for those wishing to access the backcountry along the Burns Lake Trail. The site also provides a picnic area and vault toilet.
The southern end of the site will still allow for overnight camping from mid-August through early January.
Implementation of the access was made possible through a grant from the State of Florida T. Mark Schmidt Off-Highway Vehicle Safety and Recreation Advisory Committee.
Once this access point is open, ORV traffic will not be allowed along the Burns Lake Road, and access at the old trailhead will be discontinued.
The National Park Service continues to work on the implementation of a designated ORV trail system throughout the Preserve. Currently designated trail use is required in the Bear Island Unit and Zones 2, 3 and 4 of the Stairsteps Unit.
The NPS anticipates that by January 1, 2010 primary and secondary trails will be designated within the Turner River Unit, thus suspending dispersed use. The next step in the trail implementation process will be to identify and designate primary and secondary trails within the Corn Dance Unit of the Preserve.