Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress ‘scopes’ back country routes

 

scocking@MiamiHerald.com

The Big Cypress National Preserve wants to hear suggestions from hunters, hikers and campers on more and better ways to access the area’s vast back country.

The preserve is conducting “written scoping” at the website http://parkplanning.nps.gov/bicy, where visitors are prompted to answer questions and provide suggestions on routing and location of secondary off-road vehicle trails; hiking and biking trails; and camping facilities.

Preserve spokesman Bob DeGross says planners are looking at the possibility of rerouting the Florida National Scenic Trail — which runs from the Oasis Visitor Center on Tamiami Trail north to the boundary of the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation — to a route with no off-road vehicles.

“This is just brainstorming,” DeGross said. “We’re doing written scoping. If they have specific areas where the trail isn’t going, give us details of that trail opportunity, give us coordinates.”

The scoping period ends Jan. 2. After that, DeGross said, planners will work up some draft alternatives with maps and hold public workshops next spring. A plan could be finalized by 2016.

• Boaters in southern Biscayne National Park may notice new white diamond-shaped signs with an orange border marked with “Danger Shoal” in black letters. The 14 markers recently were installed around the fragile sea grass beds and coral heads of the Featherbed Banks to try to prevent further propeller damage to those natural resources.

Boaters are advised to look out for the markers, and if they see them, to slow down and steer around the shoal. Money for the signs came from the South Florida National Parks Trust.

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  • Outdoors notebook

    Off-road vehicles such as swamp buggies, street-legal 4x4s, ATVs and UTVs will be allowed back in the Big Cypress National Preserve on Friday, marking the end of the annual 60-day recreational closure to ORV access. Only the designated primary trails in the backcountry will be open. All secondary trails will remain closed for an additional 60 days. The closure does not affect landowners’ access to private property using permitted trails. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/bicy.

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