Last Modified: Friday, October 18, 2013 2:29 PM
With the end of the U.S. government shutdown, the boat bay at Grand Bayou was reopened Thursday afternoon, allowing access from Calcasieu Lake to the East Cove Unit of the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, said Chuck Perrodin, spokesman for the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
Salinity in the East Cove marsh remains above target levels, Perrodin said, but the Grand Bayou gates will likely stay open through the weekend. The water level in the marsh is higher than that of the lake, so water will flow outward, Perrodin said. The weirs along the levee were also opened Thursday. Officials will check salinity levels in the marsh on Monday, Perrodin said.
The CPRA has kept the boat bay closed for much of the year because of high salt levels. The gates were opened briefly in late September after a round of heavy rain lowered salinity in the marsh.
But the Oct. 1 shutdown of some federal government operations, including national wildlife refuges, forced the CPRA to close the boat bay. Regardless of salinity, the Grand Bayou gates — and the Cameron Prairie refuge — will be closed Nov. 9, the beginning of the Coastal Zone waterfowl season.
All other national wildlife refuges in Southwest Louisiana likewise reopened on Thursday. But U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said that activities, areas and facilities normally closed at this time of year will remain closed throughout waterfowl season.
Fishing and boating are closed in the Gibbstown Unit — though Bank Fishing Road will remain open; in the Lacassine Pool; and in the Sabine refuge’s interior marshes and waterways, officials said. The areas will reopen on March 15.
The Lacassine refuge is closed to fishing and boating, but bank fishing will be allowed on the Streeter Road Fishing Pier. People can still observe and photograph wildlife at the pool, and archery season for white-tailed deer is open in the Cameron Prairie and Lacassine refuges, officials said.
For more information on the Grand Bayou boat bay, call the access hotline at 855-532-9955 or Perrodin at 225-342-7615. For information on the refuges, call 598-2216.