Why is Big Cypress a National Preserve and Not a National Park?
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Transcript of Why is Big Cypress a National Preserve and Not a National Park?
Big Cypress National Preserve Backcountry Volunteer Program
Why is Big Cypress a National Preserve and Not a National Park?1In 1974 Big Cypress National Preserve was the first Preserve in the National Park System. It was designated a National Preserve because of 6 traditional uses- Oil and Gas Exploration, Hunting, ORV (Off Road Vehicle) use, Private land ownership, Cattle grazing, customary and traditional uses by the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes.
These activities were occurring here before the Preserve was created and law makers wanted to guarantee that these activities would continue after the preserve was created but also with the understanding that these activities should not cause harm to the already sensitive ecosystem.HistoryIn the time between Everglades National Park being established in 1947 and the late 1960s, the area known at that time as the Big Cypress Swamp underwent changes that if were allowed to continue could possible impact the health of the land forever.
Timber companies had come into the region and cut down the old cypress and pines trees, because of the hardness of the wood and is termite resistant. Pines were also used to make turpentine tine and rosin. In 1968, the first stage of the Big Cypress Jetport was being built. The proposal for the second stage would make it the worlds largest airport, with the longest runway. Because many worried citizens and groups became concerned for the well-being of the Big Cypress Swamp and its wildlife, the project had to wait until impact studies could be conducted. As a result, several important environmental studies were conducted to determine the impact of a Jetport and also many important environmental laws were created to protect sensitive wetlands. The next stage of the Jetport was never started. Several groups, such as conservationist, hunters, private landowners, and the Seminole and Miccosukee came together to protect the Big Cypress Swamp Watershed. With help from these groups the National Park System created the concept of a National Preserve to continue the 6 traditional uses that were occurring in the Big Cypress before the preserve was created in 1974.
http://www.synthstuff.com/mt/archives/1970s_gasLines.jpgOil and Gas Exploration Since the 1940s, oil and gas exploration has occurred in the Big Cypress Swamp.The first well was discovered after numerous tries in 1943. Oil was found was in porous rocks but it needed to be separated from the water and gas. Oil is collected under low pressure. Because of the expense in the earlier years of separating the oil, it wasnt as desirable to bigger companies.
Around the time that the Preserve was established, the country was going through an oil crisis. Due to rising use of oil and an oil embargo, prices increased steadily and supply was running low.
In the Preserve oil exploration and drilling is nonfederal activity and the land used is private property. Mineral rights are held by individuals or corporations. In order to have a well in the Preserve special permits need to be filed and approved. The well and production is held to high federal regulations and standards.
The oil that is brought to the surface is a mix of oil, water and gas. This combination needs to be separated onsite and is pumped in to separators to complete the process. The system is heated up using gas that is produced. The heater is basically like a density chamber the gas rises to the top and can be reused or burned off. Oil is less dense than water and rises up. The water is drained from the bottom of the heater and is either placed back in like zones under the ground or in specially designed holding tanks.
Hunting has been a timed-honored recreational activity in the Preserve, with specific seasons for muzzle loading, general gun and archery. Hunting in the Preserve is managed cooperatively by the National Park System and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Much of our Preserve is off the main road and to appreciate it fully one should get out to the back country to experience it. In the earlier years homemade Off Road Vehicles were used to get into the back country. Today Off Road Vehicle use is still allowed with the proper permits filed, and respect to the land. Drivers are to stay on designated trails and follow the designated speed limits.
Private homes, hunting camps and businesses that were in Big Cypress before it became a Preserve, and held the deed to their property were allowed to stay in the Preserve. Because of the wetness of the land some owners chose to sell their property to the National Park System, others chose 25 year land agreements.
Before the Preserve was established, some cattle farmers leased and owned parcels of land for cattle grazing. After the Preserve was founded, cattle grazing was done on a life lease. Since that time almost all the leases have expired.Customary and Traditional Uses by the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes-The Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes were granted Customary and Traditional use of the Preserve as long as those activities were occurring when the Preserve was established in 1974.To learn more about these tribes go to the following links: