Letters to the Editor: ‘You can’t levee your way to success’

Published 6:48 pm Tuesday, March 9, 2021

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To the editor:

I read the article titled “Vidalia, Natchez in partnership with Ducks Unlimited” (Natchez Democrat, Sunday, March 7) with great interest as I spent my career protecting and managing wetlands and waterfowl. While I am elated that this partnership has been approved, I find it ironic that it occurs at the same time the City of Natchez (and Adams County) are actively lobbying for state funding to complete the Bellwood levee. In fact, that funding is one of only two legislative priorities.

The Bellwood levee will drain several hundred acres of wetlands and remove them from the Mississippi River floodplain. It is the exact opposite of what this partnership is all about — protecting wetlands and floodplains. As the Ducks Unlimited representative is quoted in the article: “We have proven to ourselves that you can’t really levee your way to success. That just takes your flood and makes it your neighbor’s problem.”

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With your headline, one has to read the article carefully to understand that Ducks Unlimited actually entered into the agreement with the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, which I assume Natchez is a member.

Nevertheless, the City of Natchez is being hypocritical to be part of an organization that enters into such an agreement to protect wetlands and floodplains while making every effort to do just the opposite. Considering millions have already been spent on the Bellwood levee construction, it is doubtful that this partnership will interrupt the project.

Hopefully, the MRCTI and our sister cities up and down the river can provide guidance to help Natchez be a better steward of the environment in the future.

Bob Strader is a resident of Natchez.