Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator
Why it Matters: Passage of HB 535, HB 691, and HCR 55 will support efforts for Louisiana to keep the “Sportsman’s Paradise” appellation by increasing conservation funding for the state, identifying additional opportunities to bolster conservation funding, and protecting the state’s estuarine resources.
House Concurrent Resolution 55 (HCR 55) is the first step toward exploring avenues to supplement the hunting and fishing license sales revenue stream for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) by establishing the Outdoor Conservation Study Group (Group). The Group will be comprised of 14 individuals whose duty will be to identify potential mechanisms to increase conservation funding in Louisiana. Other states have conservation funding mechanisms that complement the “user pays — public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding such as a conservation sales tax, dedicated lottery conservation funds, or a dedicated sales tax on outdoor sporting goods. The President of the Senate signed the resolution on June 2 completing its legislative action.
House Bill 535 (HB 535), in its original form, would have established a one half-mile buffer zone from Louisiana’s shorelines where the commercial taking of menhaden would be prohibited. The bill aims to address by-catch of non-target species and protect vulnerable coast lines. After passing the House, HB 535 was unfavorably amended in the Senate Natural Resources Committee to reduce the buffer to one-quarter mile, allow menhaden boats to keep by-catch on board to dispose of at the dock, and allow for LDWF employees to board menhaden boats to monitor by-catch.
House Bill 691 (HB 691) would restructure hunting and fishing license fees by simplifying license offerings as well as modestly increasing fees to help close a revenue gap caused by inflation and falling oil and gas prices and production, which impacts the LDWF’s budget because it receives royalties from state-owned Wildlife Management Areas. Decreased revenue for the LDWF is concerning for the state’s hunters and anglers as the agency is understaffed in various divisions and continues to battle invasive species such as feral hogs, invasive carp, and giant salvinia.
HB 535 and HB 591 await action on the Senate floor. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to stay in engaged with in-state and national conservation partners, and the Louisiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to support the original intent of these bills.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?