Grand Bayou boat bay, SW La. refuges open

By By Andrew Perzo / American Press

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.

Other refuges open

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.

Online: http://coastal.louisiana.gov; www.fws.gov/swlarefugecomplex.