July 10, 2014
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, announced that the Senate passed the Lower Mississippi River Study Act as part of a broad, bipartisan package of lands bills. This legislation directs the Secretary of the Interior to determine the suitability and feasibility of designating sites in Plaquemines Parish along the Lower Mississippi River Area as part of the National Park System.
“Louisianians, particularly in Plaquemines Parish, have been working hard over many years to preserve this important part of our history, and I am proud to have led the fight in Congress to help them achieve this important goal,” Sen. Landrieu said. “These national treasures have already withstood several hurricanes and without swift action, we risk losing them forever. I urge the House of Representatives to pass this legislation to create tourism jobs and to preserve this historic area for generations of Louisianians and Americans to come.
Sen. Landrieu’s legislation directs the Department of Interior to authorize a special resources study to determine whether the Lower Mississippi River Area possesses nationally significant natural, cultural or recreational resources, which makes it eligible for favorable designation as part of the National Park System.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser praised Senator Landrieu’s efforts to pass the legislation.
“Bringing South Louisiana and our forts into the National Park System is a great opportunity for the people of Louisiana and our tourism industry in particular, and I thank Senator Landrieu for her help in making this happen,” Nungesser said. “Starting this process comes at a great time for our state, particularly after Poverty Point. These are two great wins for Louisiana.”
The Lower Mississippi River Area is rich in cultural history. In the 1500s, Spanish explorers traveled along the banks of the river. In 1682, Robert de LaSalle claimed all the land drained by the area. In 1699, the area became the site of the first fortification on the Lower Mississippi River, known as Fort Mississippi. Since then, it has been home to 10 different fortifications, including Fort St. Philip and Fort Jackson.
Fort St. Philip, which was originally built in 1749, played a key role during the Battle of New Orleans, the final major battle in the War of 1812, when American soldiers blocked the British Navy from going upriver. Built at the request of General Andrew Jackson and partially constructed by famous local Civil War General P.G.T. Beauregard, this fort was the site of the famous Civil War battle known as the “Battle of Forts,” also referred to as the “night the war was lost.”
In addition, this area boasts many other important and unique attributes. Home to the longest continuous river road and levee system in the U.S., the area features the ancient Head of Passes site, Plaquemines Bend and two national wildlife refuges.