Department Of Interior

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Contact:John Wright, 202-208-6416
For Immediate Release: July 28, 2003
Linda Canzanelli, 305-230-1144, 3002

Interior Department Announces Plan to Save Stiltsville


WASHINGTON -- Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announced today that she has approved a plan to save the seven remaining Stiltsville houses in Biscayne National Park. The plan calls for a nonprofit trust to manage the houses and to make them available for public use.

“This is an exciting chapter in the history of Stiltsville,” Norton said. “The trust will open the houses at Stiltsville to the community and the public to showcase the richness of the marine resources of Biscayne National Park. Stiltsville will be a place for people from around the country to learn about the history of this magnificent place and the value of our fragile marine environment.”

Under the plan 15 community leaders and former leaseholders are in the process of establishing a nonprofit Stiltsville Trust to maintain the structures and provide broad public access. The National Park Service will enter into a cooperative agreement with the Stiltsville Trust authorizing them to manage the structures.

“This plan to save Stiltsville highlights the importance of working together to solve problems through what I call the four C’s – conservation through cooperation, communication and consultation,” Norton said. “This process has demonstrated the importance of listening to the community.”

The seven remaining, well-known Stiltsville houses are located in the northern part of Biscayne Bay National Park. The houses and what to do with them have been a concern for several years. In 1975, the state of Florida issued long-term leases for the Stiltsville structures located on submerged Florida land. In June 1980 Congress expanded the national park boundary, bringing the area containing Stiltsville within the boundaries of Biscayne National Park. Then in 1985 the state deeded the submerged lands in the expansion area to the United States. The original state leases to Stiltsville’s occupants remained in effect and carried an expiration date of July 1, 1999.

Meanwhile, Biscayne National Park developed a General Management Plan in 1983 that said that the existing leases would be managed until they expired and then the structures would be removed by the leaseholders at their expense. This language mirrored the terms of the original leases. After the leases expired in 1999, community support for the unique structures kept them from being removed.

During a series of meetings in 2001 and 2002, representatives of the Stiltsville leaseholders, environmental and community groups met with Park Service officials and agreed that a 501c 3 nonprofit should manage the structures. This was the National Park Service’s preferred alternative in the General Management Plan Amendment for Stiltsville. After public meetings and public comments, a Record of Decision was signed on June 11, 2003, and a Notice of Availability of the Record of Decision for the Final General Management Plan Amendment and Environmental Impact Statement was published in the Federal Register on July 18, 2003.

“The citizens of south Florida love these structures,” Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Craig Manson said. “It was the community that got us to reexamine our position on Stiltsville, resulting in a real victory for everyone.”



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