Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator
Why It Matters: Louisiana now has a new conservation funding source where the state can 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.”
Funding for projects under the Program will be determined by a project selection board (board). Counties, municipalities, state agencies, and nongovernmental entities are eligible to apply to the board detailing the proposed project and how much funding would be required.
The $10 million dollar appropriation from the State General Fund that was approved through the passage of HB 406 will serve as the seed money for the Program. The hope of the Caucus and the conservation community is that all Louisianans will see the benefits that the Program provides through the improvement of fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, and recreational properties important for public access, including hunting and fishing.
Similarly to the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund, which also provides an additional $10 million in funding for critical conservation projects in Mississippi, there is hope that Louisiana and Mississippi will both work towards establishing a dedicated source of conservation funding, such as a dedicated sales tax on outdoor gear, after seeing the benefits that their one-time $10 million dollar appropriations made in conjunction with federal and private match dollars that will be brought in. Allowing these programs to become self-sustaining and not reliant on annual appropriations from the legislatures, while also not creating new taxes or fees, would further supplement revenue generated through the American System of Conservation Funding and ultimately benefit fish and wildlife resources in Louisiana and Mississippi for years to come.
The creation of the Program has been a priority for the Caucus throughout this year’s session, including being primary policy focus of the Caucus Luncheon in April. Additionally, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted multiple letters of support to the legislature throughout the process. CSF applauds the work of the Caucus, as well as our in-state and national partners, in creating the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program.
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?