The Louisiana Legislature has prohibited certain uses on designated watercourses to preserve, protect, develop, reclaim and enhance their natural and scenic qualities (Act 947 of 1988). Prohibited uses are: (1) channelization, (2) channel realignment, (3) clearing and snagging and (4) reservoir construction (impoundment, (5) commercial cutting or harvest of trees or timber in violation of the provisions of R.S. 56:1854, (6) use of a motor vehicle or other wheeled or tracked vehicle on a designated system stream [see Section 115 for exceptions] and (7) any use requiring a permit where a permit has not been obtained.
Uses other than those that are prohibited that have potential of causing direct and significant degradation to a Scenic River or its tributaries are regulated by a permit process and multi-agency review by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Culture, Recreation, Tourism, and the Office of State Planning & Budget, and frequently in collaboration with other State and Federal regulatory agencies. Examples of these include crossings by roads, pipelines and utilities, discharges, mining, piers, bulkheads and other non-conforming structures and activities.
After a complete and sufficient application has been assigned a permit number by the Scenic Rivers Coordinator, the copies are distributed to the review agencies for a full and thorough evaluation of thirty (30) days duration. During this time the coordinator may schedule and make a site inspection. The applicant publishes a description of the proposed use in selected newspapers and sends evidence of this to the Coordinator. The public comment period is forty-five (45) days and begins with the date of publication in the official state journal, The Advocate. If there is sufficient interest from the public, a public hearing may be held. The decision by the Administrator (Secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries) to grant or deny the permit will be made within fifteen (15) days after the close of the public comment period or the public hearing (if one is held). Most permits are valid for the useful life of the project, but are invalidated if the permitted activity has not begun within eighteen (18) months of permit issuance. Applicants may appeal denial of a permit to the 19th Judicial District Court after an administrative hearing in accordance with the State Administrative Procedure Act.
In serious and urgent situations, the waiting periods for standard permitting procedures may be waived and an emergency permit granted by the Administrator. For these emergency procedures to be applicable, it must be clearly indicated in the application and the site inspection that circumstances are sufficiently dire, through no fault of the applicant, to represent imminent harm to human health or the immediate environment and that those circumstances would significantly worsen during the review period required by standard procedure.
CHECKLIST OF APPLICANT RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE SCENIC RIVER PERMIT PROCESS
___ 1. Any person who proposes to make any permitted use of a system river shall submit one complete original application to the administrator. Any documents larger than 8½” x 14” must be submitted digitally in a department approved digital format. In addition to addressing each of the twelve (12) criteria of the environmental assessment, the application must also contain the following information:
___ a. Project description & scaled drawings
___ b. Vicinity map of project location
___ c. Color photos of project site
___ d. List of other permits required
___ e. Signed legal agreement
___ f. Statement of compliance history
___ g. List of steps taken to minimize impact
___ h. List of project alternatives
___ i. $100 permit fee
___ j. Site visit fees (if applicable)
___ 3. Begin permitted activity within eighteen months of permit issuance.
INSUFFICIENT OR INCOMPLETE APPLICATIONS WILL BE RETURNED TO THE APPLICANT
INFORMATION ON PUBLIC NOTICES FOR SCENIC RIVER PERMITS
The forty-five (45) day public comment period begins with the publication of notice in the official state journal. It is the applicants responsibility to place public notice in one (1) issue of the official state
journal The Advocate and three (3) consecutive issues of the official parish journal of the parish(es) in which the project is to be done. The name of the official parish(es) journal can be obtained from the Scenic Rivers staff at (504) 765-2334 if it is not known.
Once public notices have been placed, the applicant is to send proof of publication to: Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Scenic Rivers Program, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898. A permit cannot be issued until proof of publication has been received.
The suggested format for the public notice (with appropriate insertions) is as follows:
Request for Scenic River Permit on (name of Scenic River) The Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries as Administrator of the Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers System is currently considering the application of (applicant's name) for a permit to (brief description of proposed activity) on (name of Scenic River). The decision to grant or deny this permit in the public interest will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts of the proposed activity on (name of Scenic River). Copies of the application can be seen by the public at the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries main office, Room 432, 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, LA and at the District Office in the District where the proposed activity is located. The public is invited to comment on this permit request for a period of forty-five (45) days. Responses should convey sound reasoning for or against the proposal and be mailed to Scenic Rivers Program, LDWF, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000.