Big Cypress National Preserve

Workshops set up so public can offer ideas

Hikers, bikers, anglers, campers, hunters, off-road vehicle drivers, paddlers and others are invited to attend two public workshops this week to present their ideas for accessing the vast back country of the Big Cypress National Preserve.

The preserve began soliciting input on routing of hiking paths, secondary ORV trails and locations of campsites last fall. A primary goal is to reroute a portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail, which winds from the Oasis Visitor Center on Tamiami Trail north to the boundary of the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation in order to separate hikers from ORV users. Now officials want to get more specifics from users on where they would like to pursue their activities and suggestions for making that easier while balancing the need for conservation of natural resources.

Meetings will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Conference Center in Weston and Tuesday at Big Cypress Welcome Center on Tamiami Trail in Ochopee.

For those who cannot attend the meetings, public comments will be accepted until May 11.

Preserve spokesman Bob DeGross said planners will consider all the public comments and present a slate of alternatives by late summer or early fall for another round of feedback sessions. The back country access plan could be finalized by 2016. To learn more, visit

In other Big Cypress news, Zone 4 airboat access will be closed because of low water at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

Pending higher water levels, the area will reopen June 6. Meanwhile, all other management units that allow wheeled ORV access will remain open through June 1.

On June 2, the annual 60-day closure to allow resources a break from motorized vehicles will begin in those areas and will reopen Aug. 1.

Landowners and their guests will be able to access their properties during the closure by following approved routes.

Read more Outdoors stories from the Miami Herald

Boaters and divers look for lobster off Cape Florida on Wednesday July 30, 2014.


    Ex-Penn football player dies on dive during lobster miniseason

    A Broward man lost his life diving on the first day of the lobster miniseason. He might have run out of air.

  • Fishing report

    Captain Gil Gutierrez of Lucky Fishing Charters out of TNT Marina in Keystone reported that nighttime snapper fishing on the reefs offshore of Miami has been red hot. Plenty of mangrove, mutton and yellowtail snappers are biting cut bait over the reef in depths of 25 to 60 feet of water. Captain Bill Hauck from the party boat Sea King out of Marathon reported the nighttime mangrove snapper fishing on the reef is off the chart. Nighttime snapper anglers are having no problem catching a limit of snappers, which are eating ballyhoo and threadfin herring.

  • 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

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category