Fire burns 295 acres at Sabine wildlife refuge
Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Manager Terry Delaine reported that a grass fire that was sparked Monday, perhaps by a driver flipping a cigarette out of the window on Louisiana Highway 27 – burned about 295 acres.
According to a report by The Associated Press, the fire was essentially out on Tuesday as it was down to a few smoldering embers.
Monday’s weather was good, which leads authorities to believe a cigarette probably caused the grass fire.
The wildlife refuge covers about 124,500 acres of marsh along the highway south of Hackberry. It was established in 1937 to provide habitat for migratory waterfowl and other birds. More than 280,000 people visit it each year.
With that said, one flick of a cigarette likely cost the refuge and its wildlife nearly 300 acres of habitat.
It’s a shame that drivers continue to toss cigarettes from their windows. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries reminds motorists that more can be done to combat the problem – simply report the culprits.
Call the state’s “Litterbug Hotline” at 1-888-LITRBUG or 1-888-548-7284 to report any potential littering violations, including cigarette butts, which are dangerous to wildlife and have been found in the stomachs of cats, dogs, birds and squirrels.
The four most common litter items in Louisiana are cigarettes, fast-food packaging and candy/snack packaging and beverage containers.
The LDWF Enforcement Division is the leading litter enforcement agency in the state. LDWF Enforcement Division agents issued 914 littering citations in 2011.
Those convicted of litter violations face between $175 and $1,000 in fines and up to eight hours in a litter abatement work program. Simple littering can also be trash flying out the back of a pickup truck and carries up to $175 fines and court costs.
Intentional littering can be someone deliberately throwing trash out of a window onto the roadway and brings up to a $250 fine.
Litter costs Louisiana taxpayers $40 million annually, as taxpayers pick up the bill to collect and dispose of litter, to enforce litter laws, to adjudicate litter violations, and to conduct anti-litter public information and education programs.
Litter has indirect economic cost including real estate devaluation, loss of new industry and business, and loss of tourism and ecotourism, especially in the state that lays claim to being “Sportsman’s Paradise.”
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