"Government Ditch" creates another diversion of water from East Pearl River
Some of the most pristine sand bars (beaches) along the East Pearl River are not accessible most of the summer months due to low water conditions. The culprit according to the locals who spend a large amount of time on East Pearl, is the infamous “Government Ditch”. This short body of water is yet another diversion of water from the Mississippi portion of Pearl River, known as East Pearl, to the Louisiana side as West Pearl.
Danny Manley, Director of Emergency Operations for Pearl River County, explained how the name Government Ditch became attached to the ‘Cut Thru’.
“It’s always been called the Government Ditch, but in reality, the Government Ditch is actually the tributary that was cut off the western side of the Cut Thru that bypasses the actual path we all know as East Pearl River.”
Manley said the Government Ditch was created as a logging option and winds through Cannon Lake and eventually into West Pearl.
The Cut Thru a.k.a the Government Ditch, according to Jeremy Magri, a long time boater on the East Pearl River, used to be so small that one could hardly maneuver a small flat boat through it. According to Magri, over the years, the water flow of the East Pearl has slowly diverted through the Cut Thru becoming the ‘new path’ of the river at this point.
At this point, East Pearl travels almost due East and then makes a near complete clockwise circle back into the river beyond the Cut Thru . When the river is near 14 feet at Bogalusa, one can navigate around the normal path of the river, but as the river drops near or below 8 feet, the area becomes a big sand bar. On the normal patch, Black Creek would empty into the river on this clockwise route (seen in the photo below).
The image below (Danny Manley provided) shows the Cut Thru area in 1997
The image below is an official map from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Together, the Cut Thru and the Government Ditch, create more diversion of water to the West Pearl system. Branching out of the west side of the Government Ditch, you will notice a tributary that enters Cannon Lake and it eventually empties into West Pearl River. The other tributary takes a due south direction before emptying back into West Pearl just beyond the diversion at Wilson Slough.
Images below of the Cut Thru at low water
Below is the view looking at the entrance (at low water) to the river by-passed at the Cut Thru
Below is a slideshow ( 5 sand bars) on the beautiful part of the river by-passed at the Cut Thru
The Cut Thru is a very dangerous stretch of water with submerged and visible logs, trees, and stumps.
Magri states, “By far, the hardest part of the river to get through safely, and when the river is down like today, it’s a little scary even for people like me. I’m still amazed at how wide and swift the current is through here,”
Magri added, “It’s full of danger on low water conditions as you saw today (June 30). And when the water level is up, it’s still dangerous. We can only hope that someday this can be fixed too,” Magri said.
Video navigating the Cut Thru headed north
A solution? Magri suggested one that might help the situation and allow river goers to be able to see and use the beautiful areas cut off due to the lack of river water. Magri said that a weir might could be placed on the north end of the Cut Thru which one would hope would push water back through the East Pearl River’s official path.