Editor’s note: Following the reporting of this story, Plaquemines Parish officials reportedly have decided to reopen the launch, with anglers launching at their own risk. Read the full details on this about-face here.
Capt. Ryan Lambert got quite a surprise Tuesday when he pulled into the Fort Jackson boat launch off Hwy. 23 in Buras.
Shortly after 8:30 yesterday morning, he was greeted by two brand new red, white and black signs featuring a prominent Plaquemines Parish logo indicating the ramp is now closed to the public.
“Use of this ramp/background is prohibited. Do not use under penalty of law,” the sign states.
Handwriting on the back of the sign in red marker indicates the signs were installed on March 31.
Lambert, who owns Cajun Fishing Adventures about five miles north of the launch, wasn’t happy with the news.
“Behind the political scenes, I would think the launch guys from right here are saying, ‘Oh, they’re taking my business and going launch for free over there in the parish, and they’re putting me out of business,’” he said afterwards. “So the squeaking wheel gets the grease, but we’re fixing to do some squeaking.”
Lambert said one of the first things that came to mind with the closure was the difficulty it would present to next fall's duck hunters who normally use the launch to cross the Mississippi River for easy access to the Black Bay area on the east side.
“(Not being able use the launch) endangers the lives of many, many duck hunters. Now in foggy conditions, when the river is 41 degrees, you fall in and you’re dead,” Lambert said. “All those little boats, not mine, but all those little boats going across that river next fall are in danger, and now they’re going to have to go six miles down to launch at Buras Marina and then go all they way downriver.
"And that costs $20 to launch. We have the No. 1 fishery here in North America, and we have the worst facilities in North America.”
Lambert encouraged boaters upset by the decision to contact Plaquemines Parish President Amos Cormier Jr., who took office in January.
“I think you should call the parish president, and put enough pressure on him and say, ‘Whoever is responsible for this, when the first guy dies this winter, it’s on them,'” Lambert said. “He’s brand new in office, and this is what they’re going to do? This is how he’s going to run the parish?
“His constituents launch there, and now he’s going to endanger them.”
An employee in Cormier's office said Wednesday morning he's out of town at a conference until Thursday. LouisianaSportsman.com will provide Cormier's response when provided.