For months now, one-sided news reports about allegations from a leaked “preliminary audit” of some Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries improper BP oil spill fund spending have been circulating.
The reports caught a lot of attention. But a closer look shows there is an underlying theme in this that seems to be aimed at putting the department’s previous management under Secretary Robert Barham of Oak Ridge in a bad light.
Surely it could not be politically motivated. Not in Louisiana. Barham ran the LDWF for eight years under probably the most difficult period ever with devastating hurricanes and recoveries, the BP oil spill and other major events of the likes Louisiana had never seen. In addition to that, he spent much of his eight years making sure the department was fiscally responsible to the state and its hunters and fisherpeople. Department morale was at an all-time high. We need the attention in our part of the state to continue now and remind the current LDWF leadership that the northern border of the state is not Interstate 10. Robert’s department did that. The need continues now, especially in regard to projects like . . .
– Bussey Brake and Wham Brake, which need priority after International Paper donated the lands more than four years ago, valued at millions of dollars, to develop and protect them for public use.
– The agreement last year with a large landholding company to give Morehouse and Union Parishes two new all-purpose public wildlife area between Chemin-A-Haut creek and Bayou DeLoutre covering almost 9,000 acres. Even though it was almost a totally done deal, the project has just disappeared from radar. It needs to be renewed, or a good explanation given.
– Continued fiscal responsibility, with things like the printed Louisiana Conservationist magazine that was just brought back after it died a slow death years ago due to lack of circulation. The magazine LOST more than $1 million the last year it was published. Last time I heard, money was tight in the state, so even though this might be a “nice” thing to do, I hardly see it as prudent. That’s money that shouldn’t end up in a a recycling bin.
But I digress.
Last week, Robert finally had enough of the audit rumors and told his side of the story to Patrick Bonin with the Louisiana Sportsman Magazine. You can read Patrick’s writeup and Barham’s side of the story online here:
In closing, I’ve known Robert Barham and his family for decades. He’s a very honorable man who is part of a family dedicated to public service when they don’t have any real reason to do it except a true love for this state and it’s people. There’s never been a man more suited to run the LDWF. I’m glad that Robert spoke up and told his side of the story, too.
I hope you’ll take time to read it.