Statement on Signing the Big Cypress National Preserve Addition Act

 

April 29, 1988

 

I have today approved S. 90, the ``Big Cypress National Preserve Addition Act,'' with the understanding that additional legislation will be forthcoming this year to provide for Federal acquisition of the private land to be added to the Preserve through a land exchange, which would eliminate any direct cost to the Federal government of expanding the Preserve.

 

S. 90 amends the Act that established the Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida by adding 146,000 acres of private land to the 575,000-acre Preserve. It requires the acquisition of the surface rights to these lands through a joint Federal-State effort in connection with the planned construction of Interstate Highway 75 through the area.

 

The cost of the Department of the Interior for purchasing the surface rights to these lands under the provisions of S. 90 would require $40 to $65 million in new appropriations. The Administration has consistently advised the Congress that this cost is excessive and will oppose any appropriations for this purpose. To avoid this cost, and in recognition of the important role of the Big Cypress National Preserve in conserving nationally significant fish, wildlife, and other natural resources in southern Florida, the Department of the Interior has entered negotiations to acquire the private land to be added to the Preserve through an exchange with the private landowners.

 

Such an exchange would require additional legislation, since the lands involved are in different States. I have been assured by the congressional delegation from Florida that legislation approving the Administration's exchange proposal will soon be considered by the Congress. I urge prompt passage of such legislation, which will not only provide the same protection that S. 90 provides, but also will generate Federal receipts of nearly $35 million resulting from the exchange.

 

Ronald Reagan

 

The White House,

 

April 29, 1988.

 

Note: S. 90, approved April 29, was assigned Public Law No. 100 - 301.