Everglades National Park Wilderness Stewardship Plan Being Developed

The watery wilderness of Everglades National Park / NPS – Daniel Blankenship

Nearly all of Everglades National Park is official wilderness, some underwater, most above. With that in mind, the park staff is seeking public comment on a wilderness stewardship plan that will guide the preservation, management, and use of the 97 percent of the 1.5-million-acre park that is designated wilderness.

A StoryMap with details can be found here.   

“We are very excited to gather public input on our wilderness stewardship planning effort,” said Superintendent Pedro Ramos. “Having a wilderness stewardship plan that balances the protection and management of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness with active use and enjoyment by people is essential.”  

In accordance with the Wilderness Act and other applicable laws and policies, the plan is intended to provide long-term direction for:

  • preserving wilderness character
  • protecting natural and cultural resources
  • improving wilderness conditions by restoring habitats, conducting research, and managing for invasive species and other threats
  • providing appropriate recreational opportunities for and encouraging public use and enjoyment of wilderness.

The NPS will host two virtual civic engagement meetings for the public to learn more and ask questions on February 28 and March 12 at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. local time on both days. A link to join the virtual public meetings is available on the project website under “Meeting Notices.” The meetings will begin with a presentation followed by a moderated question and answer session.  

Located within Everglades National Park, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness is the largest unit of the National Wilderness Preservation System east of the Rocky Mountains. Established in 1934, Everglades National Park was considered wilderness 30 years before the Wilderness Act of 1964 was signed into law, and 44 years prior to its official wilderness designation in 1978.  

The plan would provide general management direction for established wilderness areas, proposed areas for wilderness designation, and potential wilderness within the East Everglades Addition. The plan will also include developed and front country areas that serve as “gateways” to wilderness. This plan would replace Everglades National Park’s 1981 Backcountry Management Plan and supplement its 2015 General Management Plan.  

The public can view a StoryMap with information about the planning effort and submit written comments on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at parkplanning.nps.gov/ever-wsp.  

Although submitting comments through the project website is preferred, comments may also be mailed to: 

Superintendent Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan
Everglades National Park 

40001 State Road 9336 

Homestead, FL 33034  

Mailed comments must be postmarked by March 31.  

The next steps will include development of alternatives, additional public comment, and a management decision as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

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