Baton Rouge, LA – The bill creating the Louisiana Outdoors Forever conservation funding program (HB 762) has been passed by the Louisiana Legislature. The bill, introduced by Representative Jerome “Zee” Zeringue (District 52), which passed overwhelmingly in the house and senate, creates the Louisiana Outdoors Forever program. House Bill 406 provides $10M in seed money for the program’s first year.
“I am proud to have sponsored HB 762, which creates the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program and Fund. This effort has been supported by members of the legislature, state agencies and non-governmental conservation organizations. I believe the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program and Fund will make a lasting difference, allowing us to increase conservation of our natural resources, leverage new funding sources and provide our citizens with a better future, and it is something we can all be proud of,” said Representative Zeringue.
Senator Eddie Lambert, who carried the bill on the Senate floor said, “Outdoor recreation is an essential part of Louisiana’s heritage and culture. Conservation of our wildlife and habitats is vitally important and this level of support encourages more voluntary participation at the local and state level for long-term stewardship.”
Working through voluntary conservation measures, the program will help fund projects that protect drinking water supplies, conserve wildlife habitat, provide recreational opportunities in urban and rural areas, sustain working farms and forests, and much more. It is estimated that outdoor recreation in Louisiana currently generates $12.2 billion in consumer spending annually and supports $3.4 billion in wages and salaries. Those numbers would grow with the ability to leverage funds with a possible five to one dollar match.
“This is a great day for Louisiana! The Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program ensures we will continue the important work of conserving our natural resources while growing tourism for visitors and the quality of life for Louisianians. Through the hard work of our legislature, with Representative Zeringue leading the effort, along with natural resource agencies and conservation organizations, the Program was created to benefit those who call Louisiana home – including projects from across the state, in rural and urban areas, from forests to the coast, all built on a foundation of voluntary participation”, said Karen Gautreaux, State Director, The Nature Conservancy | Louisiana.
“We’re thrilled to see that the Louisiana Outdoors Forever program is established and funded by the legislature. This new program, with significant funding, will strengthen partnerships to conserve Louisiana’s wetlands, support clean water, create safe places to play outside, and create jobs in rural communities through outdoor recreation. We look forward to working with the state legislature to ensure its success to keep Louisiana the Sportsmen’s (and women’s) Paradise,” said Ed Penny, Ducks Unlimited Director of Public Policy for the Southern Region.
"Louisiana Outdoors Forever as a program will support an important voluntary element to Louisiana's conservation work, said Rebecca Triche, executive director for Louisiana Wildlife Federation. “We’re gratified Louisiana is providing this great opportunity to foster more partnerships and projects.”
Polling in Louisiana has indicated that 79 percent of state voters support conservation funding, 97 percent agree that protecting drinking water sources is extremely important, and 73 percent agree that we all need to do more to conserve land, water, and wildlife habitat.
The Louisiana Outdoors Coalition, which includes Ducks Unlimited, Land Trust for Louisiana, the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and The Trust for Public Land, has worked to promote the benefits of the Program. The Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts, Louisiana Farm Bureau, Louisiana Forestry Association, and Louisiana Landowners Association, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Wild Turkey Federation - Louisiana and Safari Club International have endorsed the legislation.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.