Over many millennia Mother Nature created some of the most unusual, unique, and diversified ecosystems the planet has ever seen. One of the most successful and spectacular of these areas was in the southern part of the North American Continent that would later become known as Louisiana.
A vast area of marsh and land interspersed with beautiful woodlands, waterways, lakes, bayous, and grasslands all nestled right up to the vast ocean known as the Gulf of Mexico. Pristine and perfectly balanced, this wonder of nature existed in harmony for thousands of years.
At first it was not a big deal. The master predator known as Homo Sapiens lived a life that was in harmony with nature as well and the impact on the existing environment was nominal.
Enter – Civilization.
The perfection and bounty that was southern Louisiana was rapidly and voraciously pillaged and destroyed. First by Big Sugar and quickly followed by Big Oil, Big Gas, and Big Shipping. In the name of “progress” these entities were allowed to continuously and, perhaps irreversibly, destroy one of the wonders on the world in the name of $$$$!!
Untold numbers of politicians and land managers of this incredible resource made their very substantial living and built significant personal wealth from the fees, bribes, and kickbacks paid by corporations to allow them to skirt rules and become literal scofflaws at regulations. They promulgated a culture of resource rape unparalleled in the history of the entire coast.
Pipeline canals were blazed throughout the marshlands running willy-nilly over the entire area until it looked like a veritable roadmap of straight intersecting lines. These straight-line canals and waterways created a diversion of existing water flow patterns and allowed rapid water flow and swift destruction of the coastlines of these fragile areas. Gates, fences, posts, wellheads, fittings, wrecks, pipes, lines, hardware, drums, and detritus of every description was simply abandoned in the marsh because it was cheaper to do so than to clean it up.
Vast quantities of poisonous waste products were simply thrown overboard or jettisoned from construction sites and machinery to contaminate and kill local wildlife. No heed was paid to the enormous destruction caused by these companies and individuals because “progress” and financial happiness was everywhere.
Except, at the level of the natural inhabitants of the marshlands where there was only anguish and death on an unimaginable scale. And when, finally, some of the havoc was brought to light, there was a petulant and half-hearted effort at a “clean up”.
An effort that was, and is, a standing joke.
It is nearly impossible to run a boat for any length of time in the marshes of south Louisiana without hitting some piece of discarded junk from the heyday of canal and well construction. And I cannot understand why it is still allowed. Unmarked wellheads, gates, fences, pipes, buoys, sunken debris, wrecks, barges - all of these are the responsibility of the companies that put them there and they should be held accountable for cleaning them up.
Additionally, because of this raping of the marshlands that was known as dredging, well-building, canal cutting, and pipe laying, the places where there was solid land previously utilized for homes, growing crops and grazing cattle have been rapidly disappearing. So, the people that owned these lands now claim the water above it and wish to restrict the use of said water as though it were their personal lawn. Barriers, gates, chains, pipes, ropes, and more – including surveillance equipment – are being utilized to selfishly maintain control over their “lawns”.
Yet, the only group popularly, and loudly, singled out as “destructive” is the recreational and competitive anglers of the region.
For some reason, boaters running freely across open, navigable waterways are being despised as the culprits for all the land and coastal ecosystem devastation. When the reality is that it is the very companies that paid these landowners, politicians, and regulators billions of dollars to allow themselves the destructive latitude to create the Gordian Knot it has become.
Landowners vs Anglers. The outcome is a foregone conclusion, and no one really wins anything.
Except for the companies responsible for it all that foment the angst between these two parties thereby staying in the shadows and safe from exposure of their misdeeds.
I would submit to you that there is a better solution.
These same influential landowners would be much better served to join forces with the angling community and like-minded politicians thereby utilizing their financial, lobbying, political strength, and resources to force the companies actually responsible for the loss of their land to clean up their despicable mess and restore the marsh to some semblance of normalcy.
This would be an extraordinary coalition that could force an unprecedented effort to mandate a massive cleanup of this ecosystem that has been so battered and abused by those that profited from their malfeasance.
I watch with interest.