February 1, 2012
Today the Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club sent a letter to Governor Bobby Jindal requesting his assistance by requiring the Secretary of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to prepare a new management plan for the West Pearl River.
Last August illegal discharges from the Bogalusa paper
mill killed hundreds of thousands of fish and mussels and also impacted scenic values and water quality of the West Pearl River. Hundreds of citizens attended legislative hearings last year expressing their concern about water quality and public health and asked for state action to clean up the River. The Secretary of LWLF has the responsibility under the Louisiana Scenic Rivers Act, to issue a management plan for each of the State’s designated Scenic Rivers.
The Sierra Club stated, in a November 18th letter to LDWF Secretary Robert Barham that the current management plan for the West Pearl River is outdated, does not consider current water quality problems, and contains no management strategies that are specific to the river.
Further, there is no program or plan to preserve important natural features, including the species identified by the Louisiana Natural Heritage database as threatened or endangered. The USF&WS reports that twenty-six threatened Gulf Sturgeon were killed by Temple-Inland's illegal discharges.
Haywood Martin, Chair of Sierra Club Delta Chapter said, "The outdated plan ignores the fact that the river is classified as impaired and has a mercury-in-fish consumption advisory for pregnant women and children under 7 yrs of age. Since Secretary Barham has not responded to our letter after three months, we have asked Governor Jindal to intercede." Martin continued, "We hope Governor Jindal will advise the Secretary of his responsibilities to enforce provisions of the Act."
The Sierra Club reviewed the Scenic River permit and outdated management plan for the West Pearl and determined that State oversight under the Act is so seriously deficient that scenic value and quality of water in the West Pearl River are not being protected as mandated by the Scenic Rivers Act. The current management plan does not provide for continued involvement of the public in the development, implementation and administration of the plan as required by the Act.
“We are appalled to find, after the recent disaster on the Pearl River, that the State of Louisiana has consistently failed its management responsibilities for the river", stated Louie Miller, Director for the Mississippi Sierra Club Chapter. "The Basin is an asset for both states," he added, "The Louisiana paper mill continues to discharge toxic chemicals into the Pearl river polluting both states' waters."
For further information contact:
Haywood Martin, Chair
Sierra Club Delta Chapter
Address: P.O. Box 52503
Lafayette, LA 70505
Louie Miller, Director
Law Office of George H. Penn