Wave Maker’s News: Threat to the Pearl River Averted, for Now

This article is excerpted from Wave Maker’s News, our quarterly update on all things water in the Gulf of Mexico, check out the full newsletter here. A fishing camp in the Honey Island Swamp, which relies on sediments and water from the Pearl.Photo courtesy of Angela McBrideThe Pearl River, which begins in central Mississippi northeast of Jackson, forms the southernmost portion of the border between Mississippi and Louisiana. This river and its tributaries have faced a number of significant challenges – including sewage pollution, poor management of the Ross Barnett Reservoir for downstream use, and a plan to dam the Pearl near Jackson, MS. Despite these significant challenges, it is still hanging on as a vital and viable water body. In fact, Mississippi and Louisiana’s recreational and commercial fishing industries rely on freshwater from the Pearl River to sustain the coastal estuaries which are important breeding grounds for the fish we like to catch and eat. Oyster harvests can also be impacted by the level of freshwater in coastal areas. Increased levels of salt have played big role in devastating the oyster industry in Alabama, reducing the annual catch from 800,000 pounds to just 75,000. Plus, sediments from the Pearl River nourish the same coastal marshes which protect nearby communities from storm surge!Recently, with the help of concerned citizens like you, we achieved a victory that will help make sure the Pearl can continue to sustain Gulf communities and wildlife in the years to come. In Mississippi’s Pearl River County, officials were pushing a destructive and expensive real estate development scheme that involved damming East Hobolochitto Creek, a significant tributary of the Pearl River. The proposed dam would have destroyed almost 600 acres of wetlands and ultimately reduced freshwater and sediment flows in the Pearl River.Along with the objections that GRN raised, hundreds of activist like you weighed in with our leaders in Congress asking them to put the brakes on this ill-conceived real estate scheme. Ultimately, the United States Army Corps decided to reexamine the environmental impacts of the project, and it is on hold until further notice. Thanks to all of you who took action to protect the Pearl, and the communities and wildlife that rely on it.Raleigh Hoke is GRN’s Mississippi Organizer

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