The Honorable Richard T. Haik of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, and representatives of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will make a formal presntation of the project to Mayor Rusty Moody and the Eunice City Council at the Eunice City Council Chambers at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Thirty-three of the 113 cars making up an eastbound Union Pacific Railroad train derailed northwest of Eunice, Louisiana. The derailment occurred on a bridge crossing an unnamed tributary to Bayou Des Cannes. Fifteen of the derailed cars contained a variety of hazardous materials and chemicals, and two rail cars exploded, potentially sending their contents into the surrounding area, including Eunice City Lake.
The total amount for environmental rehabilitation projects that will be executed by the LWFF and LDWF exceeds $1 million. After all claimants had been paid following the incident, residual funds were left in the account. Judge Haik, the presiding Judge overseeing the train derailment litigation, awarded the monies to the LWFF to fund the improvement projects on the lake.
Although it was determined that there were no health risks involved in eating fish from the lake, concerns about fish contamination discouraged recreational use of the lake. Improvement projects will include draining the lake, removing the existing fish population and restocking the lake with bass, bluegill, redear sunfish and sac-a-lait.
Existing facilities will also be revitalized to accommodate those seeking an outdoor recreational refuge within the community. A large pavilion will be constructed as a revenue generating space available to the community for private outdoor events.
Other site improvements include the construction of a deck and pier, restroom facility, picnic pavilions, nature walk, welcome center and asphalt road and parking. Repairs will be made to the existing fishing and boat dock, boat slip and the existing lake control structure will be replaced.
This project would also not have been possible without the generosity of Ruth M. Manuel, who agreed to lease property forming part of the property to the City of Eunice for 99 years.
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation was formed to provide a means for individuals and corporations to become partners with the Department and Commission in the challenge of conserving Louisiana’s wildlife and fish resources.