Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator
On December 15, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter to the National Park Service (NPS) in support of Alternative 5 of the Big Cypress National Preserve Backcountry Access Plan / Environmental Impact Statement (Plan).
Alternative 5 is the NPS’s preferred alternative that would reopen 66 miles of primary off-road vehicle (ORV) trails and 154 miles of secondary ORV trails. This increase in access would not only benefit Florida’s sportsmen and women, but it would also assist in the management of natural resources located within Big Cypress National Preserve (Preserve). Off highway vehicles can be an important tool for accessing backcountry destinations, managing wildlife habitat, and giving youth, elderly, and those with mobility limitations the opportunity to participate in outdoor recreation.
CSF’s letter stated, “By reopening 66 miles of primary ORV trails and 154 miles of secondary ORV trails, Alternative 5 would significantly increase access across the 729,000-acre Preserve. As noted in the Plan, these trails would impact less than 0.1% of the Preserve with most of the trail mileage traversing highly resilient to resilient substrates. We therefore believe that Alternative 5 strikes the appropriate balance between minimizing impacts to the Preserve’s natural resources while providing important access for sportsmen and women.”
The public comment period for the Plan closed on December 15. CSF will continue to be engaged on this issue as the NPS reviews public comment and prepares the final Plan.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?