Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator
- Earlier this year, National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council Member and Louisiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Member Representative Jerome Zeringue introduced House Bill 762 to establish the Louisiana Outdoor Forever Program (Program) and the Louisiana Outdoor Forever Fund to support fish and wildlife conservation initiatives in the state.
- On April 5, the Louisiana House of Representatives passed HB 762 by a vote of 90-7, showing the strong bipartisanship support that wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation has in Louisiana.
- Prior to HB 762’s vote on the House floor, the Caucus held its Annual Caucus Luncheon where the Program was the primary topic of discussion; Representative Zeringue and partners such as Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, and others spoke about the many benefits that the Program would provide for sportsmen and women and conservation efforts in Louisiana.
Why It Matters: States without a dedicated conservation funding mechanism, like Louisiana, often leave millions of dollars on the table because they cannot provide the match funding to qualify for federal conservation programs. However, if Louisiana established a dedicated conservation funding source, the state could leverage significantly more federal funds to implement conservation programs that benefit fish and wildlife resources and the sportsmen and women who enjoy the “Sportsman’s Paradise.”
In addition to HB 762, Representative Zeringue introduced House Bill 406 which would appropriate $10 million dollars from the State General Fund to the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund. Funding for projects under the Program would be determined by a project selection board. Counties, municipalities, state agencies, and nongovernmental entities would apply to the board detailing the proposed project and how much funding would be required. The board would then use a defensible, science-based criteria to select projects and distribute funding for approved projects from the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund.
Projects that would improve fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, and recreational properties important for public access, including hunting and fishing, would be eligible to receive funding through the Program.
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.
HB 762 awaits action in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Environment. On April 18, HB 406 passed the House Committee on Appropriations and now awaits action on the House floor.
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.
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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?Vote Here
- Increase the number of states with discounted license tailored to specific groups. (6.03%)
- Increase access to public lands. (24.75%)
- Provide more information for new participants. (3.94%)
- Provide hands on opportunities to improve skills and knowledge. (12.93%)
- Engage youth through hunter and conservation programs in schools. (43.13%)
- I feel we have enough sportsmen and women and do not believe R3 programs are necessary. (9.22%)