Jeff Schnieder was courageous in his brief letter “Canal to blame” (The Advocate Aug. 21) on the Intracoastal Canal being at fault for our wetland woes. But, there’s more. We should consider the railroads that cut through Louisiana in the 1870s, whose mission wasn’t just innocently to improve transportation, but to profit, despite who or what was damaged.
Newspapers provide evidence of this, especially the fight by Charles Morgan that concluded with the damming of Bayou Lafourche in 1904. With help from local and state politics, the U.S. government and War Deptment, Morgan was successful. To what end was he seeking for him and his supporters? Profits! Their primary achievement was shifting commerce from water to rail.
Next was the commercial development of wetlands near the coast. At what cost? Ask any sportsman. Sure, the railroad was inevitable, just like WalMart and legal marijuana. Back then, as now, few scientists could predict what tinkering with Mother Nature portended.
Indeed, just weeks after the 1904 dam was complete the first, brand new problem was noted and ignored — the intrusion of salt water as far as Thibodaux. Most in the media then, as now, yawned and looked the other way. It’s been a century since the dam, and 25 years since the media and government have been concerned with coastal erosion. Yet, none speak of simply having the tinkering with Mother Nature untinkered with?