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Scenic Rivers Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do about streambank erosion problems on my property adjacent to a Natural and Scenic River?

There is no simple solution because there are many types of streambank erosion (caused by runoff across a property, a stream cutting a bank naturally, an activity up or downstream of a property that changes the streams natural hydrology, etc.). LDWF is amenable to permitting bank stabilization methods that resolve or reduce the effects of erosion when the proposed method is likely to be successful, can be done in a manner which does not cause similar problems up or downstream, and does not cause undue visual or ecological impacts to the immediate project area and/or minimizes or eliminates visual impacts. Please consult with LDWF before commencing any such work. 

What should I do if I see littering or dumping into a Scenic River?

Littering or dumping into a Scenic River is a violation of the Scenic Rivers Act.  Report littering or dumping to LDWF’s Law Enforcement Division at 800.442.4511 or to your local police department or sheriff’s office. Do not tamper with evidence of littering or dumping. LDWF’s Law Enforcement Division will investigate cases of littering or dumping that are not witnessed firsthand; evidence can be lost or compromised by individuals digging through it.

If a waterbody is designated as a Scenic River, do I have the right to access the waterbody and adjacent land?

No, the Scenic Rivers Act does not convey any private property rights. Accessing designated waterbodies via private property requires the permission of the landowner as does use of land adjacent to a designated waterbody. 

Can I clear a pathway through logs or debris on a Scenic River for my canoe or boat?

LDWF allows clearing of small passageways through such obstacles to facilitate navigation. Clearing must not be excessive and should be limited to the width of the vessel. Should multiple obstructions need to be addressed, you must contact LDWF before beginning any clearing activity. If the obstruction is a fallen tree still attached to the bank, you must obtain permission from the adjacent landowner before cutting it. Excessive clearing and snagging on most designated Scenic Rivers is a prohibited activity and a criminal offense.

Am I allowed to remove trees along my property’s bankline adjacent to a Scenic River? 

Cutting or harvesting of timber within 100 feet of the ordinary low water mark of a designated Scenic River is regulated by the Scenic Rivers Act and is classified into two categories—personal use and commercial.

Personal Use

The Scenic Rivers Act allows property owners to cut trees on their property for their own personal use. LDWF encourages landowners to do so sparingly so as not to compromise stream shading and stream bank integrity. The trees and other vegetation adjacent to a waterbody provide valuable wildlife habitat and prevent future erosion and bank destabilization. Landowners clearing trees adjacent to a designated Scenic River should be aware that it is illegal to leave tops of trees in the waterbody; landowners are responsible for removing all cut trees from the waterbody.

Commercial Clearcutting

The Scenic Rivers Act prohibits commercial clearcutting of trees within 100 feet of the ordinary low watermark of a designated Scenic River. This applies to timber harvest as well as all other commercial endeavors that involve clearcutting of trees such as residential and commercial development, mining, etc. LDWF cannot permit clearcutting of trees within this 100-foot buffer.

LDWF allows the commercial selective harvest of trees within this buffer, so long as it is carried out in a manner that does not impact stream shading and stream bank integrity. The ideal way to remove trees from this buffer is to fell them away from the stream, trim unwanted/unmarketable limbs, and drag the desired timber out of the buffer. Use of tracked or wheeled equipment is not recommended because of the potential for destabilizing the bank and destroying mid- and understory vegetation as well as younger trees that will grow to fill the opening created by the target tree’s removal.

All commercial timber harvest adjacent to any designated  Scenic River requires the completion and submission of a Timber Harvest Notification Form. This form exempts the need for a Scenic River Permit to harvest timber adjacent to a designated Scenic River. Failure to complete and submit this form may subject the logger to a criminal citation for operating adjacent to a Scenic River without a permit.

What is the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wild and Scenic Rivers System is separate from Louisiana's Scenic Rivers Program, which LDWF administers. One Louisiana river (Saline Bayou, located within the boundary of Kisatchie National Forest) is designated in the national system. Saline Bayou is also a designated Scenic River in the Louisiana's state program. For more information about the national system, contact Dan Haas at 509.546.8333 or rivers@fws.gov. 

Do I need a Scenic Rivers Permit to remove sinker logs?

LDWF determines if a Scenic Rivers Permit is required to remove sinker logs on a case-by-case basis. LDWF considers location, how the logs are to be removed, and ownership of the logs (e.g. fallen trees belong to adjacent landowners or the state while commercially cut trees are potentially considered salvageable if their ownership cannot be established). Native and naturally fallen trees, logs, and woody debris are considered a part of the system and are prohibited from being removed. Contact Chris Davis at at rcdavis@wlf.la.gov or 225.765.2642 and provide the aforementioned information to determine if a Scenic Rivers Permit is required.

Please note that clearing and snagging (removal of all or most of the obstructions, trees, snags, and other impediments that slow the natural stream flow) is strictly prohibited (with a very few exceptions) by the Scenic Rivers Act.