UPDATE: The bill was amended to maintain LDWF’s ability to properly assess permit applications. It was also amended to include the Tangipahoa RIver. Thanks for your calls and emails to express your support for the integrity of Louisiana’s Scenic and Natural Rivers Program.
Ask your Representative to:
- Vote to amend SB 132 to allow the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to continue to have oversight over our scenic rivers and the activities that take place on them.
- Vote against the bill if not amended.
Senate Bill 132 proposes to change the Louisiana Scenic Rivers Act to direct the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries (LDWF) to allow any “…clearing and snagging, and dredging operations for drainage purposes, in the Amite River, [West] Pearl River, Tchefuncte River, Bogue Falaya River, Abita River, and Comite River…” and to remove the restriction on bank “clearing” along Bayou Manchac.
Simple changes to the current bill could maintain the process to properly address permit applications with the information needed to make the assessment and decision.
As the bill is written, it affects the LDWF’s discretion and oversight of the particular scenic river and mandates any and all of these types of permit applications must be approved. The concern is that a permit would be approved regardless of lack of data about benefits or lack of analysis of adverse impacts on communities along other sections of the river. It essentially circumvents a permit process and public input.
Without specific information to make a decision on a proposed project, particularly in a sandy-bottomed system as represented by the named scenic rivers, these activities have the potential of causing upstream bank erosion, increased sedimentation and siltation, faster flow downstream, and increased backwater flooding.
Dredging projects, if not properly designed, can also cause damage to roads and bridges along the river system. Interfering with the river’s ability to maintain itself has consequences on communities and wildlife that could be difficult, expensive, and maybe impossible to reverse.
The House Natural Resources Committee heard extensive testimony about concerns that the State’s permit process was being severely compromised and that altering a river’s process can have negative consequences for flood management upstream and downstream. In addition, no situation in which scenic streams permitting had been a problem could be cited. The Committee asked, and the author agreed to discussions between the time the bill left the Committee and went to the House Floor to address stated concerns. We are asking House members to consider these discussions carefully when SB 132 comes to a vote on the House floor.
The floods in 2016 touched so many of our family and friends. We all recognize the need to control the terrible impacts of flooding. Decisions that impact flood control management and river management must be made based on good information and provide meaningful participation in the permitting process, especially for those who might be impacted by those decisions.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers program is working and these streams and rivers deserve to be properly managed so that they continue to provide services such as floodwater storage, fish and wildlife habitat, and opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy their beauty.
Want more info on impacts of dredging on a river? Read Dredging: Is It a Good Solution to Flooding Problems?