Letter: Louisiana has laws to protect waterways

This letter is in response to the letter by Scott Rosenow —who identified himself as an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation of Sacramento, Calif. —which appeared in The Advocate on Jan. 31. Apparently, Mr. Rosenow is either unfamiliar with the extensive laws in Louisiana covering natural resources like water, fish, wildlife and the beds and banks of rivers and bayous or his clients do not care about these things.

The owners and operators of off-road vehicles whom Mr. Rosenow apparently represents may feel that they have the rights to ride in the Comite River and other waters in Louisiana. No mention was made of the damage the bikers have caused to fish, wildlife and the benthos which live in the bed of the Comite River and every other river in the United States.

Mr. Rosenow does not mention that these bikers also have some serious duties, obligations and responsibilities to be aware of and protect our valuable natural resources and to respect these resources and the property rights of landowners along these waterways and the rights of the people of Louisiana who own these valuable natural resources.

Mr. Rosenow should read “Save Ourselves: The Environmental Case That Changed Louisiana,” by Oliver A. Houck, who teaches law at Tulane University.

According to the Louisiana Supreme Court, the control and supervision of all wildlife of the state, including all aquatic life is charged to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and the officials and employees of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (Louisiana Revised Statute 36:601-602).

Mr. Rosenow and his clients may think that the officials with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have limited jurisdiction, but the laws of Louisiana and court rulings have been clear that the protection of wildlife and fisheries and their habitat is statewide and not just within 100 feet of waterways.

Basically, Mr. Rosenow and the bikers seem to be doing some very limited and selective reading of laws and they appear to only read those laws which they agree with.

They should read the Louisiana Constitution of 1974, Article 9, Section 1, which states: “The natural resources of the state, including air and water, and the healthful, scenic, historic, and esthetic quality of the environment shall be protected, conserved, and replenished insofar as possible and consistent with the health, safety, and welfare of the people.” They should also read the court decision in the case of Jurisich v. Jenkins, 749 So. 2d 597, 604-05 La. 1999 about oyster reefs, which clearly applies Article 9, Section 1 of the Constitution to decisions by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

William A. Fontenot

environmental activist

Baton Rouge