Harold Schoeffler: Citizen Witness

Harold Schoeffler has defined upward the meaning of citizenship and steward ship in Louisiana.

Harold Schoeffler is a Louisiana treasure. He has more first-hand knowledge of the Atchafalaya Basin, the river that feeds it and the coast than any other single person around today.

He has skillfully used the courts to enforce laws and change Louisiana for the better on issues ranging from shell dredging (as it scraping away protective barrier islands to be used for driveways) to protecting the Black Bear.

Schoeffler continues to be a force to be reckoned with on environmental issues in Louisiana based on his instinctual sense of right and wrong which he has used time and again to convince lawyers of the righteousness of his causes who have in turn convinced judges of the righteousness of Harold’s convictions.

Schoeffler is old enough to remember the Basin before oil & gas and flood control pushed the natural characteristics of America’s last great swamp into the background to serve what were argued to be higher interests. He remembers catching tarpon in the Basin above Morgan City. He understands that slow moving, meandering bayous are orders of magnitude better for protecting our wetlands than are box-type canals favored by oil and gas interests.

All of this has been discounted by ‘experts’ in industry who have come to own our state government.

Yet, as we have come to know early in the 21st Century, the Basin is the driver of our ecological wellbeing in south central Louisiana, just as surely as the coast itself is the driver of Louisiana’s wellbeing from Texas to Mississippi.

The Atchafalaya Basin. Yellow lines represent spillway levees. Red line is the Atchafalaya River. Blue line is the Mississippi River.

He has heard the fancy language and seen the pretty pictures painted by those who have no interest other than exploiting the Basin and the coast, no matter the cost. He’s gone through his life with his eyes wide open. He’s seen water quality projects used to wreck bayous and streams. He’s seen hazardous waste dumped in ditches by companies who hid behind the law to justify it. He’s watched as state government leaders have pushed restoration plans that will primarily benefit contractors while turning the Basin and the coast into artificial remnants of their greater selves.

Harold Schoeffler knows that we have spent more than half a century destroying our wetlands and the Atchafalaya Basin in a quest to save it. He knows that time is running out; that the forces that we have unleashed endanger the Basin now as never before.

With three successive governors having the state to spending $50 billion to try to preserve some of our coast, Harold Schoeffler wants those planning the effort to look a little closer at how we got here. Maybe, he figures, if they did that, they wouldn’t make things worse while they try to make things better.

Harold Schoeffler on the Atchafalaya Basin and the bogus process that wants to give Lafayette what it does not want – an elevated roadway through the heart of the city.

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Thanks to Matt Roberts, AOC’s Community Production Manager for help locating the music used in this segment.

A Foolish Game by Hans Atom (c) copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/55394 Ft: Snowflake