Pearl River needs some work to make it fit for recreation

Published 9:48 am Saturday, August 6, 2016

I’ve gotten an itch.
The thought has crossed my mind to purchase a small flatboat. Nothing too fancy, just something big enough to take down the Pearl River.
There’s a problem though. Only one place exists close to home to launch such a boat and enjoy it, Walkiah Bluff. The problem is not the location; it’s how the launch is being affected by several factors further up river.
I recently got a chance to take a boat ride along the Pearl, fortunately with someone sitting at the helm who knows the river well.
What I saw during that trip shows the Pearl River is in need of help, not just at Wilson Slough, where a majority of the water is diverted to Louisiana, but in other areas as well.
Let’s start with the slough. It’s taking water away from the southern end of the river where the Walkiah boat launch is.
Further north is a small sand bar where people stop to enjoy the coolness of the water. A bit further, is an almost dry riverbed that would provide even more sand bars, if the river were higher.
Further north along the river still, is a large collection of fallen trees and logs, creating a series of very small pathways only navigable by those who’ve spent many years piloting small watercraft.
These are just some of the problems I saw in my short time on the river.
It would certainly be expensive to address the problems with the weir, and the unrelated logjam. But just as how we should keep roads maintained so they are safe, rivers should also be regularly maintained.
So, for now, I will hold off on my aim to own a small boat. At least until something is done to make our local waterway a bit more pleasant to navigate.

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