Off Limits: Third Circuit rules Catahoula Lake is private land

LOUISIANA (KALB) - A popular duck hunting spot in Louisiana will remain off limits for public use after a ruling from the Third Circuit Court of Appeal. The court ruled in favor with the lower court that Catahoula Lake is private land, which could cut off public hunting in the area.

It has been a little known controversy for around 11 years. Catahoula Lake, a popular duck hunting and fishing spot in Cenla, may become off limits.

In 2006, Steve and Era Crooks filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Louisiana that said the landowners surrounding the lake are actually owners of the lake.

More than a year ago in the 9th JDC in Rapides Parisht, Ad-hoc Judge James Boddie ruled in favor of the Crooks' in "Crooks vs State” saying the state had unlawfully expropriated the river banks, owing the landowners $38 million in damages as well as $4.5 million in unpaid oil and gas royalties, after oil drilling has been taking place in the area throughout the years.

More than a year later, the Third Circuit Court of Appeal agree with the lower court that Catahoula Lake is private land. The Third Circuit did make one exception by lowering attorney fees for the state.

It all comes down to what is that body of water. If it's defined as a lake, it's state property and stays public. If it's deemed a river, then it's private property. The Third Circuit ruled that it's legally a river. Which will put it in the hands of the private landowners.

The state could appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court, but it's unknown right now if it plans to, or if the Supreme Court will accept the case.

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