Of all of the resources available on the planet, the second most important one is water. There have been fewer resources that have caused and will cause conflicts among the users of those resources. In America we often take for granted the natural resources, such as water. For good reason, the government has often regulated water resources to alleviate and mitigate points of contention. That goes not only for usage rights but also for recreational rights. Recently however, as more and more of our resources are strained through various impediments, contention continues to rise on various water rights issues.
In our June edition we recently covered issues surrounding the water access rights and “posting” of public waters as private property, and the apparent allowance of this activity to continue under legal guise of private property owner’s rights, regardless of navigability, accessibility or otherwise control of flowing and navigable channels. Many anglers battle this very issue daily, as new channel gates, fences, postings, and other impediments are raised each day. Some of these are legal, while many others are not. The Louisiana Sportsmen’s Coalition has taken up the call to seek out and correct these issues. However, there are even greater threats to recreational rights afoot.
More Water Rights Issues
Bureaucracy Is Quickly Becoming The Next "Posted Water" Issue
September 2020, Volume 117
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Continue Reading Below.
In the prior article we briefly touched on the many boards and bureaucratic appointees and their long leashes in controlling rights for anglers and land owners alike on State owned water bodies. The context we previously discussed this in was in the regulation of “No Wake” zones after record rainfalls and continued flooding on many of our State’s waterbodies. However, recently there have been further developments of potential overreach by these boards impacting anglers, land owners, and even non-stake holding citizens who live in the district of said waterbodies.
Recently Cypress-Black Bayou in Bossier parish has been hit with multiple instances of similar issues. Originally formed as a conservation district in the 1950’s and funded by an ad-valorem tax, the lake has been under management by an appointed board since the early 1960’s, and funded through imposed tax structures. With only appointments and no elections, the board serves with little oversight from the public. To the dismay of landowners along the lake and others simply within the taxing district of the board, the board recently sought to roll millages forward to increase taxes. That proposition was met with a resounding no vote, but much to the dismay of voters, the board has elected to impose increased “fees” for all users and landowners of the lake system.
Is this an indirect taxation without representation, considering there are again no elected members on this board and their public vote on the same failed? Typically “fees” assessed by a government have to have a direct correlation to a “product or service” provided. Does owning land near or own the lake qualify as a product or service? If so, who provides that product? Do you not yourself by purchasing the land? Does boating on the water or fishing in parks otherwise already supported through ad-valorem taxes constitute a product or service? We aren’t in the business of making legal decisions of that manner, but it does affect ever boater, angler, and owner of land on the lake with only indirect representation by appointed bureaucrats. Bureaucracy run rampant now with a current pending lawsuit by one of the appointing bodies against the board, the Bossier Parish Police Jury, and one of the members allegedly violating the dual office laws of the State of Louisiana per a ruling by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, by serving as both the executive director and as a commissioner on the board.
Cypress Black Bayou is certainly a treasure in Northwest Louisiana boasting beautiful scenery, plentiful fishing, and for many a wonderful community to live. No doubt worthy of support from the populace, the lake is a regular destination for anglers and recreational boaters alike. But such resources shouldn’t be kept from the rightful users; the tax payers of the taxable area. Whether it be by gate or fee, these resources should not be inaccessible to anglers or boaters that support their very existence. As one of the largest and most generous preservationist groups in our state, Louisiana bass anglers repeatedly answer the calls of supporting and ensuring our resources remain healthy, plentiful, and accessible. Consider getting involved with these issues in your local fishing areas, as they most certainly exist in some shape, form, or fashion. Take steps to ensure you will always have productive Louisiana waters to #GeauxBassin.
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