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Input sought on Big Cypress National Preserve plan

Big Cypress National Preserve (Image via National Park Service website)

Public input is being sought on a water management plan that the National Park Service (NPS) says would increase water flow, reduce wildfires and improve the habitat of the Big Cypress National Preserve.

A public comment period on the draft “hydrologic restoration management plan and associated environmental assessment” is open until Dec. 7. The public can submit written comments and also participate in virtual public meetings hosted by the NPS.

The NPS plan proposes the use of “passive water management actions” to restore natural “sheet flow,” or water movement, in the preserve, a news release said.

“Natural sheet flow is vital to the long-term ecological health of the Big Cypress swamp and is key to sustaining the regions natural cycle between its summer flood and winter drought regime,” the release said.

The plan calls for the NPS to remove or bypass artificial barriers and plug manmade canals within the preserve. Additionally, this plan is expected to provide NPS managers with a framework for making decisions pertaining to water related infrastructure in the preserve.

The release said the NPS would share details about the plan and answer participants’ questions in two virtual meetings. The public is encouraged to share thoughts and ideas, as this plan also offers “an opportunity to enhance visitor experience.” Both meetings are designed to cover the same content.

The one-hour meetings are scheduled for Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. EST and Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. EST.

After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email with additional information on how to join the public meeting on the preferred date and time.

The plan can be viewed and written comments submitted here.

Send comments by mail to:

Superintendent; Attn: Hydrologic Restoration Management Plan; National Park Service; 33100 Tamiami Trail East; Ochopee, Florida 34141-1000.

Written comments must be submitted online or be postmarked by Dec. 7.

More than 20,000 NPS employees care for the country’s 423 national parks. More is at nps.gov.

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