Wilderness Society Cheers Move on Big Cypress
U.S. Newswire
29 May 14:56

Wilderness Society Cheers Administration Buyout of Big Cypress
Drilling Rights; Conservationists Applaud Settlement
To: National and State Desks, Environment Reporter
Contact: Sue Gunn, 202-429-2676, or Pete Rafle, 202-429-2642,
both of The Wilderness Society

WASHINGTON, May 29 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Wilderness Society
today applauded the Bush Administration's announcement of a deal
that would effectively protect 765,000 acres of the Everglades
ecosystem from oil and gas drilling. Under the agreement, announced
this morning at the White House, the Department of Interior would
acquire mineral rights under Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida
Panther National Wildlife Refuge, and Ten Thousand Islands National
Wildlife Refuge from Collier Resources for $120 million,
effectively ensuring that no new oil and gas development will take
place there in perpetuity.

"This agreement is a huge step forward in protecting one of
America's most unique and special wild places," said Don Barry,
executive vice president of The Wilderness Society. "Secretary
Norton and the Bush Administration should be commended for
achieving something that other Administrations tried but were
unable to bring to fruition."

"We are encouraged by the farsighted, creative approach the
Administration has taken today," said Sue Gunn, director of The
Wilderness Society's National Parks Program. "We hope this signals
a new willingness to seek a true balance between development
pressures and protection of natural treasures like Big Cypress."

The Big Cypress watershed, spanning 729,000 acres across
southern Florida, was designated as the nation's first National
Preserve in 1974 to assure the conservation, protection and
preservation of one of the most spectacular and biologically
important ecosystems on the planet.
Located next to the Everglades
National Park and comprising 40 percent of the Everglades
ecosystem, the Preserve serves as a buffer zone against encroaching
development and associated pollution. The preserve harbors an
extraordinary concentration of endangered and threatened species
including the Florida panther and red-cockaded woodpecker.

Founded in 1935, the Wilderness Society works to protect
America's wilderness and to develop a nationwide network of wild
through public education, scientific analysis, and advocacy.
The organization's goal is to ensure that future generations enjoy
the clean air and water, beauty, wildlife, and opportunity for
renewal provided by the pristine forests, rivers, deserts, and
mountains owned by all Americans. For more information you can
visit The Wilderness Society Web site at http://www.wilderness.org.


See The Wildlands Project

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