LAND USE PRACTICES
IN THE LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN BASIN
This quotation from the great Hindu social reformer brings to mind the very crux of our current land use dilemma. If our population levels had remained small, there would be an abundance for all and human impacts upon the environment would have remained minimal. As population levels grew, however, some saw that the natural resource “pie” was being divided into ever smaller pieces and decided that the time was right to claim for themselves a larger “slice”. This frantic scrambling for resources has triggered a vast array of land use problems... most of them brought about by the desire to exploit a single aspect of our natural resources at the expense of others. There are, of course, many complicated issues involved with the land use controversy.
let us consider the single issue of resource management and allocation in the
Lake Pontchartrain Basin:
- How far out in the Gulf of Mexico do Louisiana’s or America’s fishing or mineral rights extend?
- Who deserves the benefits of a particular forest on the North Shore: the timber company who owns the land and wants to log it, or the people who live downstream and will suffer greatly reduced water quality and increased flooding if the trees are removed?
- If someone owns the rights to underground minerals and wants to mine them, what is their responsibility in preserving the ecological integrity of the surface area?
- Does a farmer on the North Shore have a responsibility to see that the pesticides and fertilizers he or she uses do not interfere with the environment downstream of his land?
- Who owns “state-owned” wetlands and other natural areas? Can the state lease them out without consulting all of us?