Alligator gar complicate Bourke Road bridge work

Published 12:32 am Tuesday, April 25, 2017


NATCHEZ — County supervisors have concern a bridge on Bourke Road could wash out with the sediment in the creek silted up to near the bridge.

If the creek were to wash out the bridge, approximately 20 people would not have a path out, said Supervisor President Mike Lazarus.

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“The sand is up to the bottom,” Lazarus said. “It is going to wash out soon. We have to have a way to get these people out.”

County Road Department Manager Robbie Dollar said the county could not dig the sediment up due to the creek leading into the St. Catherine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Down the stream, Lazarus said, is an alligator gar breeding ground.

“Every time we dig, it does something to affect the breeding ground,” Lazarus said. “What’s more important, the alligator gar or human life? The alligator gar is not even endangered.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists the alligator gar as susceptible to overfishing in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The fish is rare in Missouri, threatened in Illinois and endangered in Arkansas and Kentucky.

Lazarus said the county could build a higher bridge, but eventually the creek is going to silt up to the point where flooding will occur regularly.

“It’s like when you fill a ditch up and it rains, the water spreads everywhere,” Lazarus said. “This creek will cause more problems than just the bridge. The creek has to be dug out.”

District 2 Supervisor David Carter said both children and elderly residents live on that part of Bourke Road. Part of the area is in Lazarus’ District 1 and the other part in Carter’s district.

“I’m as big on conservation as anyone when it comes to saving animals,” Carter said. “But when you start putting an animal’s life ahead of people’s, it does not make sense.”

Lazarus said the wildlife refuge could consider buying the landowners out.

“I am proud for all the people that want to save animals’ lives, but like that siren pole we could not cut down for the woodpecker, common sense sooner or later has to kick in,” Lazarus said. “We have to have an option for what to do for these people.”