Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator
Why It Matters: The passage of HB 762 positions Louisiana to establish a new conservation funding source where the state could leverage significantly more federal funds to implement conservation programs that benefit fish and wildlife resources and by extension, the sportsmen and women who enjoy the “Sportsman’s Paradise.” Counties, municipalities, state agencies, and nongovernmental organizations would be eligible to apply for funding for projects that would improve fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, and recreational properties important for public access, including hunting and fishing.
With Governor Edwards’ signature, the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program and the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund will be created, and $10 million dollars will be appropriated from the State General Fund to the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund per House Bill 406, which Governor Edwards signed on May 30.
The Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program has been a priority for the Caucus throughout this year’s session, which was evident after the strongly attended Caucus Luncheon earlier this year, where the Program was the primary topic of discussion. The strong votes from both chambers of the Legislature show the strong bipartisanship support that wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation has in Louisiana.
Investing in conservation is important for supporting Louisiana’s outdoor heritage. Last year, Louisiana’s sportsmen and women contributed $43.21 million to conservation funding through hunting and fishing license and excise taxes on sporting related goods. This “user pays – public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding is the primary driver of conservation dollars in the state.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work with the Caucus, as well as in-state and national partners to support the establishment of the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program and the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund as HB 762 awaits Governor Edwards’ signature.
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?