Letter to Secretary of LDWF from Sierra Club Delta Chapter demanding a real management plan for Scenic Rivers

La. Scenic Rivers
LAW OFFICE OF GEORGE H PENN
46 Cypress Road
Covington, Louisiana 70433
504-390-0445

LLM in Energy and Environmental Law

November 14, 2011

BY CERTIFIED MAIL NO.
RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED

Honorable Robin Barham, Secretary
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
2000 Quail Drive
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70808

Re: Modification of the Management Plan for the Scenic West Pearl River

Dear Secretary Barham,

We have been retained to represent the Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club. The Delta Chapter has 3,000 members who use and enjoy the scenic rivers included within the Scenic River System. We have reviewed the Management Plan for the West Pearl which was supplied by your office. We are writing to request that you modify the Management Plan for the river following a public hearing pursuant to La.RS:1846 (B) & (C). The Delta Chapter is available to meet with you and your staff to discuss this request.

The Guidelines and Procedures for the Administration of the Act require that the management plan shall be consistent with the purposes, policies and provisions of the Act. The management plan for the West Pearl is not consistent with the Act for four reasons: (1.) It lacks the required content. (2) It contains no management strategies that are specific to the West Pearl. (3) It is wrong about water quality. (4) It is badly outdated. The continued use of this old plan violates the guidelines and procedures and is not consistent with the policies and purposes of the Act.

(1) The plan lacks the required content. The plan shall contain a clear description of “existing land and water uses”. The use of the land and of the water by the paper plant in Bogalusa is not mentioned. The plan shall contain a clear description of “existing land ownership”. Existing land ownership is not mentioned. The plan shall “[p]rovide for the continued involvement of the public in the development, implementation and administration of the plan.” The required involvement of the public is not mentioned.

(2) The plan contains no management strategies that are specific to the West Pearl. The plan shall set forth “a detailed program to address existing features which have been identified as important to be protected and preserved”. The plan shall “set forth the management goals and objectives, standards and management guidelines for the preservation of the river”. The plan contains two pages identifying important existing features. It does not contain any mention of a program or a plan to preserve these important natural features, including the species identified by the Louisiana Natural Heritage database as threatened or endangered.

(3) The plan is wrong about water quality. The plan identifies water quality as an important natural feature to be protected and preserved.

Overall water quality is rated as good; primary and secondary contact
recreation are rated as fully supported but threatened. Fish and wildlife propagation is rated as fully supported.

Overall water quality is no longer good. Fish and Wildlife Propagation is not supported. Outstanding Natural Resource Waters is not supported. DEQ has listed the river on the 303 (d) list of impaired waters. DEQ has posted a fish consumption advisory for mercury.

(4) The plan is outdated. The river has changed since the plan was adopted. Numerous issues and problems require modification. USWFS has designated the entire river as critical habitat for the endangered gulf sturgeon. The gulf sturgeon population suffered two massive losses, caused by Katrina and by Temple-Inland. Tulane has documented the decline of darter minnows. Twenty two scenic river permits have been issued without any time limits. The Louisiana Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy is complete. LDWF’s Survey of Fishes in 3 Southeast Louisiana Rivers – Ponchartrain and Pearl River Basins is complete. The Temple-Inland release caused massive fish kills.

A decision to continue to manage the river using the old plan that violates the Guidelines and Procedures is not consistent with the policies and purposes of the Act. The Delta Chapter would be pleased to meet with your office to discuss our request for a Modification and how we might be of assistance.

Sincerely,

George H. Penn
Law Office of George H. Penn

cc: Richard Exnicios

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