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BlueRibbon Coalition

ANTI-HUNTING PRESERVATIONIST GROUPS TARGET HUNTING AND OFF ROAD VEHICLE USE AT BIG CYPRESS NATIONAL PARK

The Humane Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club and other anti-recreation groups have recently notified the National Park Service of their intent to sue under the Endangered Species Act and other laws to close twenty miles of ORV trails in the already minimal and heavily-restricted route network on the Bear Island Unit of the Big Cypress National Preserve.

The groups' "sixty-day notice" was signed by attorneys for the Defenders of Wildlife and dated June 14, 2007. The agency has sixty days to respond. A "sixty day notice" is required before filing suit under the Endangered Species Act, and thereby represents a formal threat of suit and clears the grievants' path to the courthouse should the agency refuse to capitulate to their demands.

Joining the Humane Society, Defenders of Wildlife and Sierra Club on the letter were Wildlands CPR (Center for the Prevention of Roads), The Wilderness Society, National Parks Conservation Association, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, and the Florida Biodiversity Project. These same groups (or various combinations of them) have previously coordinated efforts in attacks against hunting and recreational access in other areas across the country, including bear hunting in New Jersey and Minnesota, and snowmobile use in Yellowstone National Park and the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

In 2000, the Preserve closed 23,300 miles of dispersed ORV use and limited vehicles to only 30 miles of ORV trails in the Bear Island Unit, which provides a highly-restricted but still popular hunting experience for those pursuing deer and wild hogs. Despite the significant past and ongoing restrictions on hunting and ORV access, the preservationists' letter alleges that activity along additional twenty miles of trail will illegally disturb and reduce the "prey base" of the endangered Florida panther.

"Anyone who believes these preservationist groups seek reasonable and inclusive solutions should be buying parcels of land in the same swamps of Big Cypress," stated Brian Hawthorne, Public Lands Director of the BlueRibbon Coalition. "This is a clarion call to all sportsmen and off-road vehicle enthusiasts. These groups will stop at nothing short of closing all hunting and vehicle access to Big Cypress and other public lands," Hawthorne concluded.

BlueRibbon is a non-profit organization which champions responsible recreational use of public lands and individual environmental stewardship. In their respective 2005 Forms 990 available for public review, BlueRibbon reported total revenue of $1,046,398 versus $27,019,455 for Defenders of Wildlife.

About BlueRibbon Coalition
The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible use of public and private lands, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. It represents over 10,000 individual members and 1,200 organization and business members, for a combined total of over 600,000 recreationists nationwide. 1-800-258-3742 - www.sharetrails.org

 
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