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.
- Representative Jerome Zeringue also introduced an appropriations bill, House Bill 406, that included a $10 million appropriation from the State General Fund to the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund which passed the House of Representatives earlier this session by a strong vote of 95-1.
- On May 18, HB 406 passed the Senate 38-0. HB406 now awaits Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Governor John Bel Edwards’ signature.
Why It Matters: Contingent on the passage of HB 762, the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund will receive $10 million from the State General Fund. These funds would be made available for projects on public and private land that will benefit wildlife and their habitats. Additionally, Louisiana 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.”
While the passage of HB 406 approves the $10 million appropriation to the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund, the passage of HB 762 is still required to create the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program and the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund.
If approved, the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program would allow counties, municipalities, state agencies, and nongovernmental organizations 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.
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 votes from both chambers of the Legislature on HB 406, and the vote by the House on HB 762 showed the strong bipartisanship support that wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation has in Louisiana.
Investing in conservation is important for supporting Louisiana’s shared 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 (CSF) will continue to work with the Caucus, as well as in-state and national partners to support HB 762 and 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. (5.95%)
- Increase access to public lands. (24.86%)
- Provide more information for new participants. (3.97%)
- Provide hands on opportunities to improve skills and knowledge. (13.08%)
- Engage youth through hunter and conservation programs in schools. (43.09%)
- I feel we have enough sportsmen and women and do not believe R3 programs are necessary. (9.05%)