In a comment on the Corps’ Draft Atchafalaya Basin Master Plan, the non-profit citizens’ groups accused the federal agency of merely paying lip service to its stated goal “to retain and restore the unique environmental features of the floodway,” and a congressional mandate “to look beyond simple flood control and to develop a plan for the management and preservation of the water and related land resources of the Atchafalaya River Basin.”
The organizations behind the criticism are the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Gulf Restoration Network, Louisiana Audubon Council, Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West, Louisiana Environmental Action Network or LEAN, Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper and Sierra Club’s Delta Chapter.
The letter of comment contains a list of actions and inactions contributing to the accumulation of sand and silt in the Basin’s lakes and wetlands, starting with the Corp’s stated goal of diverting up to 60 percent of the Mississippi River sediment load into the Basin.
Authored by Atchafalaya Basinkeeper Dean A. Wilson, the letter cites numerous specific projects that tend to maximize sediment load into the adjacent wetlands.
Wilson notes that Corps permits for private projects that degrade the swamps are easy to come by and are often granted after-the-fact.
“The lack of commitment for enforcement by the USACE is reflected by the fact that the New Orleans District has only two enforcers and no boat,” Wilson wrote. “On the other hand, the USACE has plenty of resources to enforce the law against individuals.
“The penalty for catching an undersize bass or not wearing a life jacket is way bigger than for building illegal dams, roads through the wetlands and any other illegal activities affecting waterways and wetlands.”
A link to the comments can be found at www.basinkeeper.org.