Shoring up of their action plan, its funding and the disposition of funds once raised highlighted the Bistineau Task Force (BTF) January 5 meeting.
BTF is a multi-parish and multi-agency organization formed in response to the Giant Salvinia problem on the lake. Their goal is to alleviate the invasion of the parasitic species and reclaim the beauty and utility of the 17,000-acre Lake Bistineau.
Ellzey Simmons, of Trailblazer Resource Conservation and Development, said it is important for the BTF action plan to be addressed before money begins to flow from a new donations program.
"I want to make adaptations to the plan because the money is being raised for a reason," he said. "The money is being raised to carry out the action plan. (...) Don't lose the vision, there are a lot of things that can be done out there to help the lake."
Pete Camp will spearhead the new action fund development initiative.
"What we want to do is raise money so that we can help implement the strategies that Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) are implementing on the lake," Camp said. "We might be able to help them by providing stuff they don't have and are not going to be able to get."
He said he had asked for and received a list of LDWF needs for Bistineau, and wanted to be sure that transparent accounting of received donations would be used to create confidence in the organization for prospective donors.
"Those are items I can go to people and say 'Hey, this is what we need and this is where the money is going,'" Camp said. "It's not going to buy lunches for somebody ... it's not going to somebody's campaign."
Camp wants to use a face-to-face strategy for the fund-raising. He then wants to be able to show, via the BTF website, what money was raised and how it was spent.
"Through Trailblazers, we'll have accounting available for anybody that wants to see it," Camp said. "That way they'll know the money is not going to wherever (...) we'll have an accounting so we can show them that we raised $50,000 and we spent $50,000 on an airboat.
"This is a chance for us to put the money exactly where we want it," Camp said.
Other topics covered at the meeting included:
District 10 Representative-Elect Gene Reynolds talked about an initiative he will sponsor once in office. Reynolds said he is researching who owns the mineral rights under the lake. If the state owns the rights, he will sponsor a bill to secure the use of the money locally to benefit the lake.
LDWF Biologist Manager Evan Thames reported on recent work done on the lake. He said that, due to current conditions, it might take 3 to 5 weeks for visible evidence of the results of a chemical being sprayed on the Giant Salvinia. In the summer, plants turn brown within a week after spraying.
Thames also said he is satisfied with the current condition of Bistineau. He said it has been usable for duck hunting, fishing and other recreational activities and that less Salvinia is on the lake than during the same period last year.
According to Thames, permits for tree removal are in the works. He said a digital map has been created with estimated percentages of trees to be removed in different areas. He also said there are contractors interested in harvesting the trees.
Trailblazer Biologist Olivia Ward reported many community outreach/education events that she had held, including work with elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges and community organizations.
BTF Members present included: Tony Lawson – Bienville Parish Police Jury); Elmore Morris and Shannon Mendenhall – Bodcau Soil and Water Conservation District(SWCD); Billy Montgomery, Bill Altimus, and Glenn Benton – Bossier Parish Police Jury; David Lowe and Rick Yager – Dorcheat SWCD; George McConathy – Saline SWCD; and Steve Ramsey, Charlie Walker and Jim Bonsall – Webster Parish Police Jury.
Meeting minutes and other information will be posted on the BTF website: http://www.trailblazer.org/index_BTF.html.