Don’t Dam the Pearl!
Lend your voice to people in Louisiana and Mississippi on the Pearl River who do not want to see how much lower the flow of their river can go. In the name of flood control, the Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District is asking the Army Corps of Engineers to approve a 1900-acre recreational lake and dam to be dredged into the channel of the Pearl River in urban Jackson, Mississippi.
This project is on a river that has towns, the important Honey Island Swamp, and Gulf Coast estuaries that depend on adequate, seasonal fresh water supply. Many downstream communities are opposed to the project. The Drainage District plans to dredge 1800 acres of forested wetlands and destroy habitat for the Gulf sturgeon and endemic ringed sawback turtle, both threatened species protected by the Endangered Species Act.
There is already a large dam on the Pearl River, impounding the Ross Barnett Reservoir, upstream from Jackson. Further channel modifications from a second lake include dredging the river deeper and wider, filling 1000 acres of floodplain wetlands, and blocking flow with a weir. Lake construction could work against downstream projects that are investing in restoration.
The recently published Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) did not include a biological assessment by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (they said it would be supplied later). It also states that the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of this project to the river will not be significant. How do they know if they have not completed the biological assessment?
These types of projects are usually planned and studied by scientists and engineers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. However, in this case, the sponsoring Drainage District has partnered with the Pearl River Vision Foundation in a public/private lobbying and fundraising effort which obtained special permission from Congress to fund and produce the studies themselves. As a result, this destructive river project is bolstered by a biased set of studies that the sponsors have crafted over the past four years in making their best argument for a lake-dam project.
Further altering the Pearl’s freshwater flow with more damming is counterproductive for ecosystems and even for flood control. Flooding can be managed more wisely and effectively without a lake and dam.
Please ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reject the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood Control and Drainage Control District’s new dam project.