Tell Louisiana to Stop Using Public Funds to Destroy Wetlands

  • by: Atchafalaya Basinkeeper
  • recipient: Louisiana’s governor, Louisiana’s Congressional Delegation, and the Atchafalaya Basin Legislative Oversite Committee

The state of Louisiana currently plans to use public funds to redirect sediment-laden Mississippi River water from the Atchafalaya River into wetlands through a series of cuts to benefit a few land owners and waterbottom claimants. Based on historical data and several previous projects, we know that these new cuts will re-direct large quantities of sediment into the basin, “filling up” our precious wetlands. The largest river swamp left in North America; the Basin provides the largest harvest of wild crawfish in the world, critical for both migratory birds, and Louisiana’s Cajun culture.

Sediment is currently the biggest threat to the Atchafalaya Basin. Since 1932, there has been net accretion of nearly 2.5 billion cubic meters of sediment in the Basin floodway, converting a substantial amount of open water and cypress swamps to bottomland hardwood forests.

This unnatural accretion will benefit only a hand full of landowners and waterbottom claimants by creating uplands, while forever destroying thousands of acres of irreplaceable wetlands. Despite the importance of the Atchafalaya Basin, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources plans to use millions of public dollars fund this project.

At a time when Louisiana is requesting billions of dollars for wetland protection and coastal restoration, it is inconceivable for Louisiana to use those public funds to destroy the Atchafalaya Basin. This is not coastal protection- these wetlands are far away from the coast.

Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West, and Sierra Club Delta Chapter ask to immediately halt the development and implementation of any projects which introduce more river water into swamps, lakes, and bayous until such time as sediment control measures are put in place to guarantee the integrity of those ecosystems.

Please sign this petition asking Louisiana’s governor, Louisiana’s Congressional Delegation, and the Atchafalaya Basin Legislative Oversite Committee to immediately stop using public funds for projects which will fill valuable wetlands away from the coast.

Dear Governor Edwards,


We are writing this letter to bring your attention to the use of public funds by the Department of Natural Resources’ Atchafalaya Basin Program which will result in filling valuable wetlands in the Atchafalaya Basin. This project will benefit a few landowners and waterbottom claimants by creating uplands, but will forever destroy thousands of acres of irreplaceable wetlands which are vital to the people, culture, and wildlife of Louisiana.


Despite strong opposition from the Basin’s fishermen, and Louisiana’s NGOs which had been at the forefront of protecting the Atchafalaya Basin for many years (such as the Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, and Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West [LCPA-West]), the Atchafalaya Basin Program is moving forward with ill-considered projects to increase river water and sediment inputs into the back swamps lakes and bayous of the Atchafalaya Basin.


The Atchafalaya Basin is of tremendous economic, ecological, cultural, and recreational value to the residents of Louisiana, the people of the United States, and the world.  The largest river swamp left in North America; the Basin provides the largest harvest of wild crawfish in the world, critical for both migratory birds, and Louisiana’s Cajun culture.


As important as the Atchafalaya Basin is for ecological values, we cannot forget that the Basin also serves as a critical Spillway for flood control. Since 1932, there has been net accretion of nearly 2.5 billion cubic meters of sediment in the Basin floodway, converting a substantial amount of open water and cypress swamps to bottomland hardwood forests. Although the ability of the Atchafalaya Basin to move flood waters is substantial, its capacity is severely diminished because of this massive accretion issue. Converting more the Spillway’s wetlands and open water into uplands will greatly diminish the ability of the Spillway to handle future floods. This is not only irresponsible but reckless.


“The mission of the Department of Natural Resources is to ensure and promote sustainable and responsible use of the natural resources of our State so that they are available for the enjoyment and benefit of our citizens now and in the future.” The mission of the Department is not to promote projects to fill valuable wetlands in the interest of a handful of landowners and waterbottom claimants. This objective severely undermines the interests of our State, our children, and our nation as a whole.


In addition to converting cypress swamps and open water into uplands, projects to enlarge or create new cuts to increase river water diversions will almost certainly result in siltation of the area within a short period of time, making the project a financial waste and threat to the Basin. Louisiana should not use public funds to fill valuable wetlands located away from the coast. These controversial projects are unnecessary, deleterious to the ecology of the Basin and detrimental to Louisiana’s image in the eyes of the rest of the nation.


 Because of all the above reasons, we ask you to help to immediately halt the development and implementation of any projects which introduce more river water into swamps, lakes, and bayous until such time as sediment control measures are put in place to guarantee the integrity of those ecosystems. Thank you for your consideration.


 


 

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