Louisiana pays more than $19K for destroyed wetlands

Louisiana has had to pay nearly $20,000 to compensate for the fact that New Orleans’ City Park illegally cleared more than an acre of wetlands for a new golf course last year.

The state paid $19,600 to the Gum Swamp mitigation bank in Livingston Parish earlier this month as per a condition of getting an after-the-fact permit approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the golf course.

In July, the Corps of Engineers ruled that the City Park Improvement Association removed 1.31 acres of wetlands near Couturie Forest without a required permit, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act, and construction was ordered to stop.

The wetlands were removed during the construction of City Park’s planned $24.5 million 28-hole golf course on an area of former golf courses that closed after Hurricane Katrina. Critics of the project concerned about wetlands in the area had asked the Corps of Engineers for a review.

Officials are eager for the course to open in 2017, City Park CEO Bob Becker said in a news release Wednesday.

City Park for Everyone Coalition, a group that formed to oppose the golf course, has advocated for keeping the area as more natural, undeveloped section for nature walks and other activities accessible to the larger public.

“We hope that City Park’s leadership will learn from this legal loss and discuss future issues with citizens whose voices have been shut out,” Christopher Lane, the coalition’s president, said in a news release.

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