Black Bears and Wetlands and the Water Resources Development Act…Oh, My!

Bears are made of the same dust as we, and breathe the same winds and drink of the same waters. – John Muir

The Louisiana black bear is a threatened subspecies of the American black bear, and is found in wetland areas along the Mississippi River in the southern United States.

Their habitat faces serious threats from the United States Army Corps’ wasteful construction projects that eliminate and degrade wetland habitat crucial for the bears and other wildlife.

What’s a “WRDA” Water Resources Development Act?

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is legislation that Congress uses to tell the Army Corps of Engineers what projects to build on our landscape. The Senate is expected to vote next week on a WRDA that could mean trouble for the black bear in several significant and serious ways. This WRDA includes provisions (Section 2032 & 2033) that would speed up Corps projects by shortening the amount of time available to complete a thorough environmental review of the projects. This undermines the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which was designed to evaluate the environmental impact of projects before constructing them. The provisions also make it more difficult for scientists, other agencies, and the public to influence the construction of Corps projects.

Black bear cubs in Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Photo by David Watts.
Environmental review of projects is essential to ensure that Corps projects benefit the nation rather than waste taxpayer dollars and harm our water resources and wildlife.

Environmental review protects wildlife

Having an adequate environmental review process saved the Louisiana black bear when their Mississippi wetland habitat was threatened by the Corps’ Yazoo Pumps project.

This unnecessary and environmentally destructive project would have damaged hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands as well as two National Wildlife Refuges in the Mississippi River Delta. With the provisions in this WRDA, the project would have gone forward with less understanding of the environmental implications the construction would have had on the Louisiana black bear and other wildlife. Instead, the Environmental Protection Agency was able to step in and prohibit the project’s construction, saving these valuable wetlands and wildlife habitat.

Stand up for black bears and other wildlife!

Any bill with these provisions – provisions that would undermine years of conservation efforts and harm wildlife – must not move forward.

Tell your United States Senators to stop this WRDA from moving forward until it maintains strong environmental protections so we can protect threatened Louisiana black bears and other wildlife from harmful Army Corps of Engineers projects.