'Glades Debate Reaching Critical Mass

In the ongoing development of a new general management plan (GMP) for Everglades National Park, administrators have opened up another public-comment period encompassing the park's revised management alternatives through May 15. A host of public meetings also have been scheduled for later this month and into April. This marks anglers' last chance to make their voices known, as a "preferred alternative" will be selected this fall, pending the outcome of these meetings and comments. So comment - and attend! As it stands, four alternatives are being proposed as the potential backbone of this new GMP. These alternatives have been revised significantly since first introduced two years ago, but the options still basically range from a do-nothing approach to a fairly radical plan hinging on resources conservation that would prohibit boating throughout wide swaths of Florida Bay. Most agree that changes need to be made on how anglers and others use the park. Most agree that boater education must be enacted and enforced to operate in the park. But there are still questions that demand answers among many of the alternatives, and there is still some debate among anglers as to which specific approach would be best. If you enjoy fishing in the Everglades, get in the game now - study up on these alternatives, comment through the ENP's website and attend at least one of the upcoming meetings. Decisions made in the coming months will determine how fly anglers can use one of the world's great light-tackle fisheries for decades to come. To read a report highlighting all the alternatives with maps that detail each option, click here. To comment on these alternatives, click here. The upcoming public-comment meetings are scheduled as follows. Attend one! * Monday, March 30: Key Largo Grande Hotel; 97000 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, Fla. 305-852-5553 * Tuesday, March 31: Everglades City School; 415 School Drive, Everglades City, Fla. 239-377-9800 * Wednesday, April 1: South Dade Public Library; 10750 SW 211th Street, Miami, Fla. 305-233-8140 * Monday, April 13: Key Largo Holiday Inn; 99701 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, Fla. 305-451-2121 * Tuesday, April 14: John D. Campbell Agricultural Center; 18710 SW 288th Street, Homestead, Fla. 305-248-3311 * Wednesday, April 15: Edison State College, Building J; 7007 Lely Cultural Parkway, Naples, Fla. 239-732-3707 * Thursday, April 16: International Gamefish Fish Association (IGFA) Fishing Hall of Fame, 300 Gulfstream Way, Dania Beach, Fla. 954-922-4212 Fish hard, Mike Mazur FFSW Editor