Groups Urge St. Tammany Parish, Army Corps of Engineers to Consider Impacts and Possible Alternatives to Proposed Bypass

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, March 6, 2006Contact:Matt Rota, (504) 525-1528Jill Mastrototaro, (504) 836-7208Lessons Not Learned: Groups Urge St. Tammany Parish, Army Corps of Engineers to Consider Impacts and Possible Alternatives to Proposed BypassA controversial $10.5 million Mandeville bypass road would impact nearly 80 acres of land and destroy almost 60 acres of wetlands near Mandeville. The bypass would run from Louisiana Highway 1088 to U.S. Highway 190.”We do recognize that there are traffic congestion problems in St. Tammany Parish, but it is important to also consider the new problems that destroying these wetlands will create,” said Matt Rota of the Gulf Restoration Network. “In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, preserving our vanishing wetlands is a vital part of a comprehensive strategy to protect the region from future storms and floods.”In comments sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the Gulf Restoration Network and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation urged the agencies to reject St. Tammany Parish’s request for a permit to fill wetlands based on the following:The proposed bypass will degrade water quality and destroy the flood protection capacity of the wetlands. These wetlands are also part of the Cane Bayou watershed, which is designated as a Louisiana Natural and Scenic River.The proposal will open up a large, undeveloped tract of land east of the bypass to future development. This area is uniquely positioned between Bayou Castine and Cane Bayou.The parish must first be required to consider alternatives to constructing a new road through wetlands such as expanding established transportation corridors or modifying the project alignment.The project conflicts with Louisiana’s goal to protect and restore wetlands.Jill Mastrototaro, Environmental Coordinator of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, noted, “This proposal serves as an example of why St. Tammany Parish must begin developing policies and ordinances from its New Directions 2025 comprehensive land use plan. Only through enforceable land use regulations can the parish begin to address infrastructure needs while ensuring the protection of important natural resources.”###

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