Florida Panther News

A coalition of environmental groups is ratcheting up the legal pressure on the Obama administration over off-road vehicles in the Big Cypress National Preserve.

The National Park Service issued a final plan last year to propose that Congress designate 40,000 fewer acres in the preserve in eastern Collier County as wilderness, a classification that would prohibit off-roaders.

Today, four groups put the Park Service, the Interior Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on notice that the groups will sue the agencies in 60 days unless they reconsider the decision. The groups say it violates the Endangered Species Act by not protecting the Florida panther, eastern indigo snake and red-cockaded woodpecker.

The Sierra Club, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the South Florida Wildlands Association and the Florida Biodiversity Project filed the notice.

PEER, a nonprofit watchdog group that represents environmental agency whistle blowers, filed an administrative complaint with the National Park Service last December, saying its decision violated the federal Data Quality Act. The new complaint threatens to bring the issue to a federal courtroom instead.

PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said the Big Cypress designation is part of a troubling pattern of national preserve mismanagement emerging from the Obama administration.

The group also has taken legal action in California to force the Park Service to reconsider a decision to not restrict hunting in the Mojave National Preserve to protect desert tortoises.


Florida Panther News

Story Search