News & Resolutions

Protecting Wildlife and Habitat from Negative Impacts of Off-Road Vehicles in Stream Beds

October 4, 2013 3:30 PM

**UPDATE: Deadline to comment on the Notice of Intent has been extended to December 20, 2013.** 

"Interested persons may submit written comments of the amended Rule to: Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Attn: Keith Cascio, Scenic Rivers Coordinator, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70898-9000 no later than 4:30 p.m., December 20, 2013 [the original November 29, 2013 deadline for comment has been extended]."

Update on Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers Program

At yesterday’s October meeting of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) presented recommended changes to the Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers Program for approval.  One key proposed change is to prohibit the use of a motor vehicle or other wheeled or tracked vehicle on a designated stream, except for permitted uses and crossings. 

The Commission voted to issue the notice of intent in support of these recommendations from the Department. Thanks to Commission members who thoughtfully listened to the data presented and patiently listened to lots of public comments on the issue. The public can comment directly by submitting comments and we encourage you to do so. Instructions are in the notice of intent.

LWF supports the restriction of off-road vehicles (ORV) in stream beds of designated scenic streams to preserve the habitat and scenic values.  You can read the resolution on LWF’s position here. LWF wrote a letter asking for the issue to be brought back for discussion and the opportunity to present more information on the biological evidence of negative impacts on habitat and wildlife and impact on the recreational experience of other users, including paddlers, anglers, birders and swimmers.

The Louisiana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society also passed a policy statement recommending against the use of ORVs within streams, which concurs with recommendations the Texas Chapter had made in 2002.

Other southeastern states, including Texas and Mississippi, have adopted legislation to eliminate or reduce ORV riding in rivers and streams because of detrimental effects on water quality, fisheries, bank erosion, and scenic value. LDWF currently has restriction on ATV use in the state’s WMAs.

The vast majority of LWF’s members are recreational users and understand the enjoyment and utility of ATVs. But it is simply not appropriate to ride motorized vehicles in stream beds. The non-profit Tread Lightly educates about responsible riding with helpful guidance. Tread Lightly’s website on responsible riding:

Louisiana Wildlife Federation was instrumental in passing the Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers Act in 1970 and has continued to be supportive of adding scenic streams to the program and monitoring the program. More than 3,000 miles of rivers are included and it’s an important program for preservation. 

(image from Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries)

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