As published in The Floridian.

Efforts by the Federal government to designate Big Cypress National Preserve as wilderness have met stiff opposition from Florida lawmakers and the Miccosukee Tribe in the region. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) has introduced a bill prohibiting the designation of the Preserve, while Representative Scott Franklin (R-FL) introduced its House companion.

Senator Scott, in a letter penned in March, voiced his opposition to the wilderness designation of Big Cypress. He highlighted two key concerns: the potential hindrance to the Miccosukee Tribe and other local stakeholders in their efforts to contain invasive species and the anticipated restrictions on public and tribal access.

In April, Representative Byron Donalds (R-FL) led a bipartisan coalition including Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), similarly highlighting the concerns of the Miccosukee and Seminole about the Federal government's plans, with Rep. Donalds calling it "debilitating federal overreach" and saying it was "imperative that we block this disastrous and completely unnecessary potential action by out-of-touch bureaucrats in Washington."

Later, at the end of the month, Rep. Donalds urged for "common sense to prevail," which was "in short supply in the Biden administration," yet the issue was something Democrats and Republicans could agree on.

In his press release, Sen. Scott expressed the same sentiment, "The Interior Department's proposal to designate Big Cypress as a wilderness area is a massive overstep by the federal government that would significantly diminish the conservation and recreational activities that those who live on and visit the preserve take very seriously to foster a connection between the public and nature today."

Earlier in May, Rep. Franklin added, "In Florida, we know no one is better at preserving our state's natural beauty than the locals who have lived on the land for generations. This overreach by the Biden Administration is not only unnecessary to protect this land, it's in vehement opposition to the will of the affected counties in my district, our state's agencies, and local Tribal Nations."