Louisiana Wildlife Federation (LWF) is calling for available restoration funding from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to be used for enhanced management of Elmer's Island Wildlife Refuge.
A proposed $22 million project has been officially removed from the Deepwater Horizon National Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustee Council's early restoration plan for Louisiana. Removal of this project makes funding available for alternative projects designed to provide and enhance recreational opportunities.
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority heard a presentation this week on three projects under consideration for reallocation of these funds.
One project that could be considered is the Elmer's Island Access Enhancement project that would address increased vehicle parking, kayak launches, an elevated boardwalk and culvert installations to allow improved hydrology and fish passage. The management plan and the addendum with details can be found at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/refuge/elmers-island.
"Early NRDA funding initially slated for another project should be allocated to Elmer's Island Wildlife Refuge because it clearly meets the requirement for impact from the oil spill. Elmer's Island is a popular recreational area in a valuable coastal habitat that would benefit greatly from expanded management and resources," said Rebecca Triche, executive director for Louisiana Wildlife Federation.
LWF supports the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) seeking additional funding from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement and other sources to ensure adequate management of Elmer's Island Refuge for both people and wildlife.
LDWF is encouraged to develop a more robust comprehensive management plan that expands on enhanced recreational use coupled with habitat and wildlife protection. Specific recommendations to accommodate recreational users include developing a visitor center, providing adequate parking places for vehicles, and creating launches for kayaks.
A management plan for Elmer's Island Wildlife Refuge must include methods to balance recreation opportunities, such as the long history of successful fishing along the beach, and protection for nesting shorebird and turtle habitats. LWF also suggests adding a coyote control program to protect nesting bird species.
LWF would support transferring regulatory authority from LDWF's Marine Fisheries Division to the Division of Wildlife under the Wildlife Management Area program, with personnel collaborating with the Office of Fisheries when appropriate.
"Frequent users of Elmer's Island have noted a need to control trash and provide more enforcement of regulations that protect wildlife and preserve the beauty of Elmer's Island Refuge," said Triche. LWF is suggesting placement of garbage receptacles on the refuge with funding for adequate facility maintenance.
"We are encouraged to hear the possibilities for greater enhancement projects at Elmer's Island. The Louisiana trustees have an opportunity to improve an important coastal area when deciding how to reallocate these funds. We believe that Elmer's Island Wildlife Refuge is a great candidate for additional funding," said Triche.
The Louisiana Wildlife Federation is a statewide conservation education and advocacy organization. Established in 1940, it is affiliated with the National Wildlife Federation and represents a broad constituency of conservationists including hunters, anglers, campers, birders, boaters, and other outdoor enthusiasts. www.LaWildlifeFed.org
Posted on Fri, March 17, 2017
by The Lafourche Gazette