Wildlife Refuge Association Backs Government Decision to Halt Louisiana Dredging

Jun 24, 2010, 17:27 ET from National Wildlife Refuge Association

WASHINGTON, June 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) today praised the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their decision to halt the State of Louisiana's dredging operations near the Breton National Wildlife Refuge (Breton NWR) off Louisiana's coast. The refuge, most of which is a federally designated Wilderness area, is located on the Chandeleur Islands, and is home to tens of thousands of nesting sea- and shore-birds, including brown pelicans, piping plovers, and least terns. All these species are in grave danger from the BP oil disaster. According to Refuge Association President Evan Hirsche, "the State of Louisiana has blatantly disregarded the terms of federal dredging permits, conducting massive dredging operations close to the Chandeleurs despite a legally binding agreement to dredge farther offshore. The federal government did the right thing in calling a halt to this illegal activity."  

Despite the concerns of federal and independent scientists that dredging could amount to nothing more than an expensive boondoggle that could do more harm than good for the fragile wetlands of Louisiana's coast, the Interior Department and Corps of Engineers expedited the federal permit process to allow Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to dredge sand and construct protective berms offshore. The permits allowed for dredging three miles off the coast, yet Jindal defied the permits' restrictions and commenced dredging close to the Chandeleurs, leading to yesterday's decision to shut down the operation. "The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Corps of Engineers went to great lengths to get Gov. Jindal the permits he needed to build the berms, yet he flouted the rules and did as he pleased," said Hirsche. "It's disingenuous for him now to blame the government for his own transgressions.    

"We understand Governor Jindal's concern for his state's residents and economy, and are sympathetic to the devastation the BP oil gusher has caused to Louisiana's people and communities," said Hirsche. "However, two wrongs don't make a right, and Gov. Jindal had an obligation to abide by the terms of his state's agreement with the federal government."

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America's wildlife heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System

CONTACT:  Evan Hirsche, President, NWRA, (301) 675-0949 www.refugeassociation.org

SOURCE National Wildlife Refuge Association