Will BP money provide lasting benefit?

Throw on your warmest camo, and head to the woods with the next cold front. Deer change their behavior when it’s cold, and that puts the odds in your favor.

About two months ago, I noticed traffic cones had appeared overnight in the median of a stretch of highway I travel every day. I wondered what they were for.

It was obvious the state intended to undertake some roadwork project, and I could have easily looked it up online to find out exactly what was about to happen, but I was only moderately curious and didn’t pursue it.

A day or two later, when I reached this same stretch of highway, it was obvious why the cones had been placed there. A contractor had ripped up one of the lanes for miles. The highway was being repaved.

It struck me immediately as being an insane waste of money. The highway wasn’t in any state of disrepair prior to the repaving. It was blacktopped and smooth — entirely free of potholes and buckles.

Maybe it was an earmark for the local congressman who wanted to funnel some funds into his district or maybe it was “stimulus” funds that we borrowed from our children in quixotic pursuit of the elusive Keynesian multiplier.

I don’t know. But the money is now gone, and it could have been used so much more intelligently.

I’ve had the same thought on several recent fishing trips as I’ve watched boatloads of BP contractors disperse from local marinas like bees from the hive to ride around the marsh looking for oil.

BP is paying these boat owners and small companies a king’s ransom to waste their days. On the one hand, I’m glad that Louisiana residents, who were harmed the most by the spill, are getting a significant portion of the mitigation pie. Marinas also, who lost an entire summer of revenues, are able to earn some of that back in launch fees and fuel charges.

But on the other hand, I feel the slow drip of coastal erosion and subsidence every time I venture into the marsh, and the water torture is too much to bear. Just since the BP spill, 15 square miles of Louisiana’s coast have converted from wildlife-rich wetlands to open water.

The money BP is wasting could be put to such better use.

As Sportsman staffer Alicia LaFont explains well in a Newsbreaker in this issue, the Louisiana Wildlife Federation is pursuing a strategy to apply BP mitigation money to projects that would benefit us as well as future generations of Louisiana residents.

Much of the work would be centered around the Caminada-Moreau chenier plain, that old remnant of the Mississippi River delta that juts out into the Gulf and bore the brunt of the oil’s impact. The area is extremely popular with Louisiana’s outdoorsmen, particularly those with limited resources who want access to truly world-class fishing.

LWF is pushing its noble agenda through the Natural Resources Damage Assessment, which is considering which projects are worth funding and which are the financial equivalent of paying someone to dig a hole and paying someone else to fill it back up.

Or better yet, paying someone to repave a highway that’s already as smooth as the Talladega Superspeedway.

About Todd Masson 670 Articles
Todd Masson has covered outdoors in Louisiana for a quarter century, and is host of the Marsh Man Masson channel on YouTube.

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