Jackson County rescinds support of Lake George Project

Jackson County Board of Supervisors votes to rescind its support of the Lake George Project....
Jackson County Board of Supervisors votes to rescind its support of the Lake George Project. (Photo Source: WLOX News)
Published: Feb. 2, 2016 at 12:35 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2016 at 10:54 AM CST
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JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - In a 3-2 vote, the Jackson County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to rescind its support of the Lake George Project. District 5 supervisor Randy Bosarge said he made the motion after he heard from hundreds of people who do not support the project because of possible negative affects on the Pascagoula River.

The project would create 3,000 acres of lakes in George County by damming some of the tributaries that flow into the Pascagoula River. Though the project has become increasing controversial, Board President Melton Harris said the county should continue to support the project for its economic development possibilities.

But the majority of his fellow supervisors don't agree. They said they can still support George County without putting their name on anything.

People at the meeting who are against the project were happy with how the vote turned out.

"I feel very good, very good. I think the election we held recently made a big difference because our previous supervisors were not thinking, were not paying attention, and did not care. And Jackson County needs to care about that river. That river is our life blood," said Steve Shepard the Gulf Coast Group Chair of the Sierra Club.

"The Pascagoula is your last free flowing river and it does not need to be dammed. There's too many scientists that have spoken against it, and it's for profit for George County and it will not help Jackson County," Maxine Ramsey said.

Board President Melton Harris said the next step for supervisors will be to send letters to George County Supervisors and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers explaining the change of heart.

Larry McDonald, President of the George County Board of Supervisors, said Monday's vote sets a "disturbing precedent" and "threatens to undo a very positive six-year working relationship on this project." He released the following statement on the decision:

Let me be clear, the Lake George- Drought Resiliency Project will still move forward. Obviously, we will need to retool our original plan and that work will begin immediately.

The reality is climate change is predicted to cause more frequent, more severe and longer droughts throughout the Pascagoula River Basin. Without a proactive response, these droughts will have significant, adverse environmental, ecological and economic impacts on the Pascagoula River.

According to USGS, the Pascagoula River had a drought of record in 2000 followed by other notable droughts in 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2015.

Like Jackson County, George County's citizens know that the Pascagoula River is critical to the region's environment, ecology and economy. I would not support any project that would threaten the Pascagoula River's ability to continue meeting any of those important functions.

The actions taken today by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors on a narrow 3 to 2 vote threatens to undo a very positive six year working relationship on this critical regional project with George County and the Pat Harrison Waterway District.

It's hard to understand how two new supervisors can vote to dissolve a collaboration without reaching out to our Board, the project's engineering team, or the Pat Harrison Waterway District. Regrettably, I expect today's action will be seen as a disturbing precedent by other community, business and economic development partners working with the Jackson County Board of Supervisors.

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