SLIDELL, LA (WLOX) - The Pearl River is among the most endangered rivers in America. That's according to a group called American Rivers, which releases a top 10 endangered rivers list each year.
The Pearl River made the endangered list because of a proposed flood control project in the Jackson area. That project could alter the flow of the waterway and create negative consequences downstream.
Visitors enjoy tours of the bayou along the West Pearl River. These estuaries hold a diverse, but delicate eco-system, that some fear may soon be interrupted.
"The Pearl River in Louisiana and Mississippi has been listed as one of the top ten most endangered rivers in America in 2015," said Helen Rose Patterson, with Gulf Restoration Network.
The issue that prompted that dubious designation is a flood control project that involves building a dam on the Pearl River near Jackson.
Paul Trahan, who owns and operates Honey Island Swamp tours, said the loss of freshwater flow could be devastating, downstream.
"Salt water backing up into the Pearl, out of Lake Bourne, out of Lake Pontchartrain, out of the gulf. And killing the beautiful estuary that we have here," said Trahan.
Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, there are concerns and fears about the oyster industry and the possible negative impact the dam project could have on a fishery that's already hurting.
"Fresh water from the Pearl mixes with salt water to create the perfect mix for growing oysters, and taking care of the nurseries that grow our crabs, shrimp, and fish that we enjoy," said Patterson.
"It's already been tampered with a little bit because of the Ross Barnett, they hold a lot of water and they control a lot of the flow already. And we would just hate to see another party coming in to control what Mother Nature should be doing on her own," said Trahan.
Those familiar with the Pearl say tampering further with that freshwater flow, could be disastrous.
"We can't afford to lose any more water. We push our boats enough during the summer. Our oysters are already suffering from not as much flow. So altogether, I think it's the obvious. We can afford to lose even a fraction of an inch of water," said Louisiana resident Janice Oberry.
The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources passed a resolution in January, opposing any flood control project that would adversely affect the flow of freshwater from the Pearl River into the Mississippi Sound.
Read the full study from American Rivers here: http://www.americanrivers.org/endangered-rivers/