One of Louisiana’s natural resource treasures is the abundance of waterways in the state. Meandering bayous, streams, rivers, coastal marshes and tidal creeks help make up the diversity of waterways in the Sportsman’s Paradise.
That’s why 50 years ago the Louisiana Legislature created the Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers System. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) administers the Scenic Rivers system, in which there are approximately 80 streams or stream segments thereof, constituting an estimated 3,100 miles of the state’s streams, rivers and bayous.
So in 2020, LDWF will celebrate the creation and evolution of the system and spotlight exactly how, where and why these beautiful waterbodies are so recognized. Among the events will be an anniversary celebration July 29 in Lacombe at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Louisiana Complex. LDWF will partner with the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy of Louisiana and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation to stage this event.
The purpose of the system was simple; to preserve, protect, develop, reclaim and enhance the wilderness qualities, scenic beauties and ecological regimes of certain free-flowing Louisiana streams.
“Louisiana’s Scenic Rivers System is one of the largest systems like it in the world and LDWF is proud of the role it plays in this effort,” said LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet. “It was clear many of these rivers and streams needed shielding and preservation so that generations to come would be able to enjoy them. In addition, we always want to make sure that prime habitat such as these rivers and streams are guarded so fisheries and wildlife can continue to flourish.’’
A great diversity of stream types, habitats and geographic areas are represented in the system. From large rivers like the Ouachita River in north central Louisiana to fast running, upland streams, complete with waterfalls, like Kisatchie Bayou in Natchitoches Parish and stream systems like the Tchefuncte River and its tributaries in St. Tammany Parish, all are unique and worth preserving for the benefit of future generations of Louisianians.
Certain activities are prohibited on designated Natural and Scenic Rivers because of their detrimental ecological impacts on the streams. These include channelization, clearing and snagging, channel realignment, reservoir construction, commercial clear-cutting of trees within 100 feet of the ordinary low water mark and use of a motor vehicle or other wheeled or tracked vehicle on a designated stream.
Scenic River Permits are required for activities on or near System Rivers that may detrimentally impact the ecological integrity, scenic beauty or wilderness qualities of those rivers. These permits, when granted, contain specific conditions aimed at preserving the stream’s natural character and quality.
Rivers, streams and bayous can be nominated for inclusion in the Scenic Rivers System by local legislators. Once nominated, LDWF will conduct a study on the stream and determine if it meets the qualifying criteria. If it does, the LDWF Secretary could recommend it for inclusion.
There are many ways for the public to enjoy these beautiful streams, rivers and bayous. LDWF encourages everyone to visit them, paddle, fish, sightsee and bring along a camera to capture the natural beauty. By doing so, you can develop a genuine appreciation for their integral roles in the way and quality of life in Louisiana.
LDWF wants the public to take part in the celebration as well. Use the #MyScenicRiver hashtag whenever posting to social media any photos, video or other media while out and about in the Scenic River System.