CENLA, La. -(Ammoland.com)- Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members are stepping up to defend traditional public access opportunities to Catahoula Lake, one of the most sought-after waterfowling destinations in Louisiana, following a recent court decision that could make the lake off limits to sportsmen.
BHA’s recently established Southeast chapter is fighting the privatization of Catahoula, the largest freshwater lake in Louisiana and one frequented by successive generations of Bayou State hunters.
Current debate centers on whether the lake should be classified as a non-navigable river, in which case access to the land beneath and water above the lake could be posted by neighboring private landowners.
In July, a district court ruled that Catahoula Lake is technically a river, sparking a potentially precedent-setting legal argument whose resolution could take months or years.
In the meantime, BHA Southeast is mobilizing sportsmen in Louisiana to safeguard traditional public access to public waters in Louisiana. That the Sportsman’s Paradise could become a paradise accessible only to the rich, elite and well connected is a fate that the chapter is committed to averting.
“I often access public lands to recreate and obtain table fare,” said Louisiana BHA member Caleb Kaywood of New Orleans. “The district court's decision in Crooks v. State places public access to a legendary duck hunting and others in great peril. More now than ever, the people of Louisiana should support their right to public access.”
“As a Louisiana native, I have hunted and fished Catahoula Lake as many have done before me – and who still do today,” said Southeast BHA Co-Chair Lee MacDonald, who currently lives in Brookhaven, Georgia. “Restricting access to this resource could have long lasting implications, and we are ready to stand up and defend against them.”
BHA State Policy Director Tim Brass urged sportsmen to pay attention to events unfolding in Louisiana – and to help safeguard the public’s ability to access places like Catahoula Lake.
“We are paying close attention to the legal fate of Catahoula Lake, including its implications for other public waters in Louisiana,” said Brass. “BHA is committed to preserving access to the public lands and waters of the region, and we will ensure that the public’s voice is clearly heard.”
BHA has launched a petition so sportsmen and others can speak up for public access to public waters in Louisiana.