Big Cypress National Preserve
National Park Service
Ochopee, FL 34141
W22 (BICY VRP)
Closure Order # 18-0010
May 3, 2018
Pursuant to Executive Order 1 1644 (as amended by Executive Order 1 1989); 36 Code of Federal
Regulations 1.5 (a); and final Recreational Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan Supplemental
Environmental Impact Statement, Zone 4 of the Stairsteps Unit will be closed temporarily to all public access by airboat. (Refer to preserve publications for description of Zone 4).
The public will be advised of the implementation and subsequent termination of this closure by press release and the posting of signs in the appropriate areas. This closure will be maintained pending verification that surface water depth has returned to safe levels.
This closure order is necessary for natural resources and visitor protection during a period of low water.
The National Park Service is directed by Executive Order 1 1644 (as amended by Executive Order 1 1989).
wherever (s)he determines that the use of off-road vehicles will cause or is causing considerable adverse effects on the soil, vegetation, wildlife, wildlife habitat, or cultural or historic resources of particular areas or trails of the public lands, immediately close such areas or trails to the type of off-road vehicle causing such effects, until such time as (s)he determines that such adverse effects have been eliminated and that measures have been implemented to prevent future recurrence."
Accordingly the preserve has developed objective criteria related to low water closure of the Stairsteps Unit (which includes Zone 4), found in: "Criteriafor off-road vehicle and hunting access within Big Cypress National Preserve in response to surface water level.
In this document it states: "Absent other environmental conditions or emergencies that may prevail upon managers to limit and control ORV access and hunting within the preserve, access to ORV trails within a management unit would be open when water levels are between swamp forest and xeric water level conditions as described in the criteria. Closure would be implemented within the Stairsteps management unit when a two-week average of daily water levels observed within that unit is less than or equal to the swamp forest water level threshold described in the criteria.
On April 1 8, 2018 those threshold levels were observed and have persisted for the required two-week period. Access to the Stairsteps Unit will be reopened when verification of those surface water depths have returned to safe levels.
Big Cypress National Preserve staff has consulted with our partners in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regarding this matter and have agreed to the implement this closure.
Staff from both agencies will continue to monitor water levels and will provide advice on when it will be possible