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Contact: Ardrianna McLane, 239-695-1107
OCHOPEE – Recent weather conditions and slowly subsiding water levels have improved conditions in Big Cypress National Preserve. Staff have been working hard to restore facilities, infrastructure, and access for the public since the preserve reopened one month ago after Hurricane Irma.
The Swamp Welcome Center will reopen on Veteran’s Day, Friday, November 10. The facility has been repaired and restored after Hurricane Irma’s strong winds drove rain into the building’s air handling unit. Recent repairs and mediation have brought the building back up to full operational levels.
Loop Road remains closed to all non-local and through traffic. Teams have completed vegetation and tree arbor work along the scenic road, but high water levels continue to make the road impassable. Staff will continue to update signs along the roadway and reopen by press release as conditions allow.
General Gun season opens on Saturday, November 11 within the Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area. High water levels in some areas may require short-term trail closures to protect preserve resources. Hunters and recreationalists must obey any posted closures. The Stairsteps Unit remains closed to all recreational access including hunting. To learn more about hunting in Big Cypress National Preserve, please visit http://myfwc.com/hunting/wma-brochures/s/big-cypress/. Due to higher than normal water levels, hunters are reminded that the taking of swimming deer is prohibited.
Monument Lake Campground remains the only open campground. Midway, Burns Lake, Bear Island, Mitchell Landing, and Pinecrest Campgrounds remain closed due to higher than normal ground water levels. Current facilities at the campground are not suitable for public use. The public is encouraged to find alternate camping accommodations in the area. Additional updates and changes in closures will be provided by press release.