Important Bird Areas

Big Cypress Swamp Watershed

Florida

Big Cypress National Preserve (729,000 acres; 295,026 hectares), CollierSeminole State Park (7279 acres; 2604 hectares), Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park (69,088 acres; 27,959 hectares), Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge (26,000 acres; 10,522 hectares), and Picayune Strand State Forest (15,935 acres; 6448 hectares). Adjacent private lands are sought for acquisition under the Belle Meade CARLFF Project (9407 acres [3807 hectares] remaining), Fakahatchee Strand CARLFF Project (17,398 acres [7040 hectares] remaining), and Save Our Everglades CARLFF Project (35,139 acres [14,220 hectares] remaining)

Ornithological Summary

Big Cypress National Preserve: significant populations of Endangered, Special Concern, FCREPA, and Watch List species; significant numbers of wading birds; complete avian diversity of slash pine flatwoods; significant natural habitats; and long-term research.

Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve support the entire world population of ?Cape Sable? Seaside Sparrows. Sparrow numbers at the Preserve have been reduced to perhaps 10% of their numbers in the early 1980s. Big Cypress National Preserve also supports the fourth largest Red-cockaded Woodpecker population in Florida, and the population at Picayune Strand State Forest is being restored. Diversity for Big Cypress National Preserve is 177 native species; no list was provided for any other site.

Conservation Issues

Big Cypress National Preserve: *human disturbance (Off-Road Vehicles), *exotic plants, *altered hydrology, *feral hogs, habitat succession.

Big Cypress National Preserve: In the early 1970s, an international airport and massive city were nearly built in Big Cypress Swamp, but this plan was scrapped when it was documented that the development would destroy Everglades National Park. The entire Big Cypress Swamp later was protected by the federal Government, but a runway 3 miles (4.8 km) in length already had been constructed. This ?Dade?Collier Jetport? continues to be used by airline pilots for practicing take-offs and landings; it is not part of the National Preserve. ? Altered quality and quantity of water flowing into the Preserve has impacted natural communities. ? After announcing its intentions to greatly expand oil and gas extraction activities in 2001, the federal government recently proposed buying back all mineral rights in the Big Cypress region, at a cost of $120 million. ? Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) use has been substantial, and has damaged large portions of the Preserve; an estimated 23,000 miles (36,800 km) of trails exist. An ORV management plan was recently established and will limit ORVs to a maximum of 400 miles (640 km) of existing trails. ? An active program to control exotic plants is underway. ? Prescribed fires are set to restore and maintain fire-dependent communities. ? Picayune Strand State Forest contained only four Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (all males) in 2000. Three females from Apalachicola National Forest were released into the Forest to rejuvenate the population. Based on the amount of old-growth habitat available, 25?30 woodpecker clusters may eventually be established.

Ownership

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge), U.S. National Park Service (Big Cypress National Preserve), Florida Division of Forestry (Picayune Strand State Forest), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (Collier?Seminole State Park and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park), and private owners (remaining acreage of the Belle Meade CARL?FF Project, the Fakahatchee Strand CARL?FF Project, and the Save Our Everglades CARL?FF Project)

Habitat

Big Cypress National Preserve: *slash pine flatwoods, *temperate hammock, *cypress swamp, *hardwood swamp, *freshwater marsh, tropical hammock, mangrove forest, cattail marsh, tidal marsh, riverine, lacustrine, estuary, artificial.

Land Use

Big Cypress National Preserve: *conservation, *recreation, hunting, oil production.

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