NEW ORLEANS– A commissioner from Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) alerted Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) today that a controversial plan to build an airport in the Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge in Grand Isle, La., would be withdrawn.
Commissioner Jerri Smitko was advised by LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet that he had spoken to Grand Isle mayor David Camardelle and whatever agreement was in place to develop part of the wildlife refuge into an airport would be cancelled.
Gulf Restoration Network submitted an eight-page letter to LDWF outlining why the project was a bad idea and documenting illegal development activities that had already begun in the wildlife refuge. GRN’s community science director Scott Eustis traveled to Grand Isle to photograph illegal mowing and rock fill at the site of the proposed airport. Commission Smitko praised the letter and GRN’s work in helping to kill the ill-conceived project.
"If Grand Isle wants an airport they should expand the already existing airport, not break the law and fill wetlands,” Eustis said. “They are wasting taxpayers’ time and money."
LDWF had scheduled time to discuss the proposed airport at its Commission meeting in Baton Rouge on October 4. Several other conservation groups had expressed strong opposition to the project and were planning to attend the meeting and provide comments. While Commissioner Smitko said there might be some mention of the project at the Commission’s monthly meeting, it seems unlikely there is any path forward for an airport to be built in the Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge.
Elmer's Island was part of the Caminada Headland project, the most expensive coastal restoration project to date in Louisiana.
Founded in 1994, Gulf Restoration Network is a nonprofit focused on empowering people to protect and restore the natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico region.