OPEN LETTER: A South Delta resident’s plea to save the farm

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Editor’s Note: This letter was sent by a South Mississippi Delta resident to Brenda Mallory, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality in the Biden Administration. 
Ms. Mallory,
I hope this letter finds you well and I hope to not take up too much of your time.
I arrived in the South Delta because of my love for wildlife in the mid-80s. I went to work for Tara Wildlife which was the leading hunting club in the Eagle Lake area. Ms. Maggie Bryant, the owner, was from Middleburg, Va. She owned 20,000 acres along the Mississippi River.
That is where I got introduced to backwater flooding and its effects on wildlife and the people in the area.
I married a lady around the lake whose family owned 1,000 acres that her parents bought in 1947 that borders Steele Bayou.
When they dredged out Steele Bayou, her parents were so happy to see the progress and were looking forward to moving the cattle to the lake, which in the ’60s, they did; then along came the 1973 flood, with the loss of her father from a heart attack. Her mother got rid of the cows and went to row cropping, still hoping the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the new muddy bayou structure would help in the flooding.
In the mid-80s, the pumps project got vetoed because of pressure from environmental groups.
My mother-in-law was devastated knowing we are in a time bomb before the next flood with no pumps. She died mad at our Government officials for stopping a project that they said would drain the wetlands when all you have to do is turn the pump off at whatever level you’re comfortable with.
Now my wife and I are left with a farm that we are trying to save and continue for the next generation.
You must understand that these environmental groups can write an article and get you bombarded with phone calls to stop the pumps. These groups can raise all kinds of money from their members to give to our elected career politicians to get them to change their minds and get them to go against us who voted them in.
But how come the pumps are working great throughout the Mississippi River system and they say it will not work here?
I saw the devastation to the people and wildlife in the 2019 flood that is too hard to explain to outsiders. I watched 400 deer a week starve to death for months and months; raccoons eating newborn fawns; deer swimming 20 miles through the woods crawling up on a woodpile to rest and the fire ants attacking them.
As the animal floats in the backwater the ants have a buffet until the animal sinks and the ants go to another brush pile waiting on their next meal.
If these environmental groups would see the horrors to wildlife and timber that they are trying to protect they would realize the pumps are the answer.
You cannot bunch animals up in a confined space for 7 months. You can’t put hardwood timber in the water for 7 to 8 months a year.
Please help us keep our farm in the family by putting in the pumps. I’m all for wetlands and timber along with farming. They work together throughout the river system with pumps and they can work here also.
Jeff Terry
Warren County, Miss.

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