The gates at the Lake Bistineau Spillway were discussed at length Thursday during the first Bistineau Task Force meeting of the year.
Several volunteers who recently cleaned up the clogged dam showed up in force to find out what could be done to keep the flow of water over the spillway free and clear.
In early January, a group of about eight volunteers spent several hours pulling logs and debris from the spillway area.
Jeff Sibley, with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, says the gates closed Jan. 14, but they do have some debris around the gates, preventing them from closing completely.
“Several of them are almost all the way shut, and typically, we go back with the Department of Transportation and Development and see if the water recedes and see what’s on the back side,” he said. “The lake was high already, but you just can’t see what’s down there.”
He says they usually clear the dam area of logs and debris twice per year, but the manpower just isn’t there to clear the dam more often.
“With a lake with trees and logs, it’s just an ongoing thing,” he said. “We appreciate the effort on it, and we do it the week right before (closing the gates). Every lake that has that has the same issue. All those lakes that have timber get stuff on the spillway. We do appreciate the effort, it did not go unnoticed.”
LDWF still took a beating by several in attendance over their perceived lack of concern over the spillway. Webster Parish Police Jury President Jim Bonsall, District 6 says he understands it cannot be cleaned on a more regular basis by LDWF, but feels they could show more concern. He says he understands they clean the spillways because they have to.
“In my opinion, they ought to be more eager to help, because we all work for these people,” he said. “That’s what I’ve seen that bothers me more than anything. I understand they can’t go clean it out every other day, and I think most of these people understand that. I do think we ought to get better cooperation among all of us and make this deal work a little better.”
But he says, like Police Juror Steve Ramsey, District 11, he believes a schedule could be set up so that the spillway gets cleaned out more often.
Volunteer Weldon Thomas and others in attendance say they intend to host other cleanup days like the one in January on a more regular basis.
Litter around the lake area has also been an ongoing issue, and Bonsall says they have one crew that takes care of the whole parish as well as a crew of inmates at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center. Bonsall says he does not understand the blatant littering within the parish.
“There’s two crews and we can’t keep up,” Bonsall said. “We talk about this at every meeting, and we try to address it. We have a couple of groups of people that have asked if they could take sections of roads, and I think that’s a great idea if they have the time to do that. Maybe somebody might develop some pride from it.”
In other news, the weevil project headed up by Pete Camp, BTF member at large, is at a relative standstill with the colder months and the lake drawdown.
Three greenhouses have been donated towards the weevil project, although they have to be constructed on the lake, Camp said.
“We have the tanks built that the weevils will go in, and we have it ready to put the plastic back on the top of the greenhouse,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do inside. That should hopefully be done this weekend. So far, everything we’ve done has been for free.”
He says dirt and labor have both been donated.
“A whole bunch of people have just come together to make this thing happen pretty quickly,” he added. “Hopefully we’ll have our own weevils in the greenhouse within a couple of weeks.”
Members rolling off the task force include Elmore Morris of Bodcau Soil and Water
Conservation District, David Lowe and Rick Yager of Dorcheat SWCD, and Bill Conly of Saline SWCD. They will discuss replacements at the next meeting.
The next meeting of the Bistineau Task Force is slated for 10 a.m. March 24 on the second floor at the Webster Parish Courthouse.