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Lake life

New Recreation Area: D’Arbonne Lake

“A new Recreation Area: D’Arbonne Lake!”

Well, it was new when this headline was written in the “Louisiana Conservationist” in the March, April 1964 issue!  As part of our ongoing recognition of Lake D’Arbonne’s 50th anniversary this year, we’re sharing some of that article in a two-part series:

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 9.24.20 AM“Nestled in the dry and red sand hills of Union Parish is a new 15,000 acre lake. it is fed by the crystal clear springs of Corney Creek and the sometimes murky run off of Bayou D’Arbonne,” reads the first paragraph of the story by staff writer James T. Davis.

“In a few years people arriving at Farmerville will be impressed by the expanse of beautiful water at the city’s outskirts. The clearing of the lake bed assures large expanse of water which will attract boaters, skiers, picnickers and sightseers alike. Further up the lake, the many wooded coves and bottoms will attract both fishermen and duck hunters.”

Yep. Got that right.

Being a publication of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Conservationist article spent a lot of time covering fisheries. We’ll cover more of that tomorrow. But it also talked about the economic benefits of the new lake. I wish all our governmental spending of tax dollars today followed this philosophy. I think you’ll find this interesting:

“The expense for building a large impoundment should be justified whenever public funds are used. We, through the use of D’Arbonne Lake, are proving what effect this lake will have on the economy of the surrounding area. One of the most obvious changes is in increased land values. At the request of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, the branch of Realty, the U.S. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, conducted an appraisal of land values. Their conclusions:

1. 1957 land values in the flood areas averaged $20 per acre and ranged from $20 to $40 in surrounding lands.
2. Land values in 1961 within a limited area around the lake rose to $500 to $1,500 per acre along highways and $150 to $450 per acre in less accessible areas.
3. Continued and sustained rise in land values will depend on use and demand from cities with a radius of 50 miles and orderly and proper recreational development and success of fishing and boating on the lake.”

Well, based on the fact that an acre of land on the lake today will cost you $30-$75,000 or more, I’d say the recreational development and fishing success has been mighty fine, indeed. Of course, they didn’t know about inflation back in those days.

I’ve always been a believer that in order to know where you are going, you need to know where you’ve been. Lake D’Arbonne has been a recreational and economic treasure for 50 years. It hasn’t been taken advantage of totally, but I’d say it’s a pretty good investment. I’d also say that each and every one of us has a responsibility to protect the lake and its environment and to help our leaders with ideas and support to continue to develop it for the next 50 years. If we don’t move forward, we will certainly move backwards.


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