Over the past thirty years, National Park Trust has preserved thousands of acres of parkland with significant historic and environmental impacts. NPT founding Board member John Rollins recounts an example of such an acquisition: Big Cypress National Preserve in southern Florida.
Big Cypress National Preserve, located between Miami and Naples, is home to a vast number of species, the most notable being the endangered Florida panther. Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park are the only remaining homes for the Florida panther on the east coast. As cities in southern Florida grew, the natural habitat of this endangered species was reduced to the point that today they exist only in the parks and preserves. NPT, with the support of a $50,000 grant from the Norcross Wildlife Foundation, purchased 100 acres of privately held land within Big Cypress National Preserve with the goal of establishing an area dedicated to the recovery of this endangered species.
After working with the state of Florida and the National Park Service, NPT acquired the land and turned it over to Big Cypress National Preserve in 1990. At that time there were only 30-50 adult Florida panthers found at Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park. As of 2012, the Florida panther population is up to 240 adult cats. This population growth is a testament to the importance of a project like this.
According to Rollins, “This project was initiated based on the vision of NPT’s founder, Paul Pritchard, who believed passionately that one of the important goals of park preservation is the creation of sustainable habitat for wildlife threatened with extinction.”