CROWLEY - Four committees will draft plans to manage the newly named White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area, with members of the White Lake Advisory Board hoping to maintain a balance between nature and opportunities for bird watching, fishing and hunting.
The advisory board met Tuesday at the LSU Agriculture Center Rice Research Station to discuss finances, fishing and the formal naming of the property.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officially took over management of the 71,000 acres of wetlands and marshland on July 1. The land was donated by BP America Production to the state, and was the center of controversy when then-Gov. Mike Foster settled an almost $40 million debt from BP at the same time the land was donated. A private board was overseeing the land, but now the Wildlife and Fisheries will oversee the land's management.
"The transition is complete," said Dwight Landreneau, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. "The money that was in the treasury was handed over to our accounts."
A total of $200,000 was transferred from White Lake Preservation Inc., the private group that used to oversee the preserve.
The White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area is expecting $1,103,100 in revenue, and $794,864 in expenditures, according to Janice Lansing, undersecretary for Wildlife and Fisheries, who oversees financial management areas.
Steve Linscombe, regional director of the LSU Ag Center and head of the White Lake Advisory Board, said he set up four committees - finance, education and outreach, natural resources and agriculture - to help make recommendations to the full board.
"I think we can accomplish a lot in smaller groups," Linscombe said. The finance committee has been charged with putting together a financial plan, while the natural resources committee will address how the overall property will be managed, he said.
The first concern for the advisory board is finding money to fix levees in the preserve.
Wildlife and Fisheries needs about $300,000 to $400,000 for immediate repairs to about four miles of levees in the preserve, said Parke Moore, assistant secretary for the Office of Wildlife and Fisheries. Millions more will be needed in the future to fix five miles of levee and to complete other projects, he said.
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