This letter is to protest statements made by Toni DeBosier of the Department of Natural Resources to The Independent ("Log Jam," June 15).
Debosier observed that the Army Corps of Engineers issued three cease-and-desist orders in 2003 that resulted in loggers leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of timber on the ground to rot, calling it a "waste of resources" and the result of dictation by a "very strong federal arm." These statements are misleading to the reader. The Corps demanded that the logs be left because they were multiple layers deep and to remove them would require dredging and cause irreparable damage to the soil. DeBosier is aware of this.
Readers should know that the law providing Corps jurisdiction in this situation demands a permit for any dredging activities that take place in "navigable" waters, which by definition these were. In two of the three cases, the loggers were aware that their actions were not permissible. The Corps was rightfully exercising its duty when demanding that the logs be left. Louisiana's coastal wetland cypress forests are being threatened by a timber industry intent upon meeting a growing demand for cypress mulch. Louisiana is now asking the federal government for $1.9 billion in federal assistance for coastal restoration at the same time that Sen. David Vitter is trying to reduce regulation governing the clear-cutting of its forests, which provide protection for the coast. These forests are often the last line of defense against the encroaching Gulf of Mexico.
Recognizing the importance of these forests and the risk they face, Gov. Kathleen Blanco commissioned in 2004 a group of high-level scientists to study this very problem. Their report, issued in April of this year, did not sugar coat the issue: "Total loss of wetland forests is nearly assured in most of coastal La. without active measure to ameliorate problems."
These forests are a part of our coastal ecosystem. They are also important to our culture and our heritage. Indeed, the baldcypress is Louisiana's State Tree.
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.