New law would open Foster Lake again

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 3, 2003

WOODVILLE &045; Unless a court rules otherwise, Foster Lake will be re-opened to the public on July 1, according to a bill signed into law by Gov. Musgrove last week.

Located near Lake Mary in western Wilkinson County, Foster Lake was removed from the state’s list of public waterways in 2001 after the Department of Environmental Quality said the Buffalo River no longer met the minimum flow requirements for the lake to remain public.

The Buffalo River channeled through Foster Lake for many years, but its course may have started changing as far back as the 1970s.

Email newsletter signup

But since water remains in the river’s lower reaches and the area is frequently flooded by the Mississippi River, the changes have been difficult to detect.

While some landowners at Foster Lake prefer the waterway to remain private, many area sportsmen who previously enjoyed duck hunting and fishing there objected.

In 2001, the Wilkinson County Board of Supervisors appealed the DEQ decision, and that litigation is still pending in chancery court.

Board President Kirk Smith said he traveled to Jackson last month and worked with Rep. David Green (D-Gloster) and Sen. Robert Johnson (D-Natchez) to restore public access to the lake.

&uot;We pretty much survive on sales taxes and revenue generated by recreational activities like hunting and fishing. We don’t have any other industry in the county, so we don’t need to lose any of that money,&uot; said Smith.

The new legislation, co-authored by Green and Rep. Joseph Warren of Mount Olive, was amended in the Senate to mandate that any lake connected by water to a naturally-flowing stream on July 1, 2000, and removed from the list of public waterways by the DEQ for lack of water flow before July 1, 2001 will be reopened to the public &045; unless a court of competent jurisdiction later rules otherwise.