Activity: Decision Making and Issue Analysis

Dredging of the Channels
through the Pearl River

The educator reads the following excerpt from a Times Picayune article dated March 19, 1993, Section B (St. Tammany), p. 1, column 2), regarding the dredging of the channels through the Pearl River.

illustration of a gulf sturgeon

It's all a matter of perspective.

Up in Bogalusa, La., folks view the West Pearl River as an artery of trade, a waterway well suited for shipping wood products and other items from the city to points across the country.

Down in Slidell, boaters, fishermen, conservationists and others have another view. To them, the West Pearl is one of St. Tammany Parish's most treasured natural resources.

Both groups can make convincing arguments about why their interests should determine the river's future.

Officials of the Army Corps of Engineers are trying to weigh the arguments and decide whether it should resume dredging the river system's barge canal to accommodate commercial enterprises.

The corps has issued a preliminary environmental impact statement that supports the dredging. If that recomme ndation is accepted --and financed by Congress --year-round dredging could resume as early as April 1994, corps officials said...Restoring the barge canal, which links Bogalusa to the West Pearl River, to its former condition is vital to Bogalusa's economic future, the (Bogalusa) mayor (Toye Taylor) said.

But several speakers, including a number of St. Tammany Parish residents who use the lower West Pearl River regularly, countered that dredging threatens to cause ecological damage to the waterway and the area.

"The proposed dredging could have adverse impact on a number of species, including the ringed sawback turtle and the gulf sturgeon," said Allan J. Mueller, field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Vicksburg.

"This is one of the last unaltered swamps and river systems we have left," Paul Wagner, operator of Honey Island Swamp Tours, said. "Just leave it alone."...

The educator guides the students through the decision-making process, allowing them to (a) explore the values conflict, (b) brainstorm and research solutions and (c) make decisions.
Scenario/Issue Analysis
Situation Dredging of the channels through the Pearl River are proposed so that commerce may be expanded in communities to the north.
Problem Dredging will damage extensive wetland ecosystems in the Pearl River basin and further threaten endangered species like the Ringed Sawback turtle and the Gulf Sturgeon.
Values Conflict

Possible Solutions


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