What a great day for Louisiana!
Louisians were born and raised to appreciate and enjoy our beautiful state as an athlete’s paradise. I sponsored House Bill 762, which created the Louisiana Outdoors Forever program because it will allow us to improve the conservation of our natural resources, mobilize new funds to continue these efforts, and provide our citizens with a better quality of life for coming generations will offer.
I would like to thank my colleagues in the Louisiana Legislature for supporting and passing this law. You know how important protecting water, wildlife, natural areas, forests and farmland is to safeguarding Louisiana’s rich natural heritage, our tourism economy and outdoor recreation. It is estimated that outdoor recreation in Louisiana generates $12.2 billion in consumer spending and supports $3.4 billion in wages and salaries annually. Thanks to the allocation of $10 million in seed money to fund the program’s initial funding; These numbers can grow with our ability to pool and pool tens of millions of federal and private dollars for conservation.
Louisiana Outdoor Forever projects include conservation or management of land, including fish and wildlife habitats; recreational properties associated with important natural areas and public use; and historic properties adjacent to or integrated with habitat restoration or enhancement. Projects will also address protecting drinking water supplies through upstream conservation efforts and supporting our working farms and forests, which are critical to our future – ecologically and economically.
The passage of this crucial piece of legislation was long overdue and could not have come at a better time for our state. Louisiana can no longer be considered the only state in the Southeast without a dedicated conservation funding program. Now we have the opportunity to step up and take the lead in safeguarding our natural resources, protecting our water supplies and preserving wildlife habitats. We must make this serious investment now to preserve our state for future generations.
Although the future looks brighter with the passage of House Bill 762 and the creation of the Louisiana Outdoors Forever program, there is still work to be done. We will continue to work with the Louisiana Legislature and members of the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Coalition (including The Nature Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Trust for Public Land, ducks
Unlimited, Louisiana Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and Land Trust for Louisiana) and other private and public partners committed to preserving Louisiana’s place as an athlete’s paradise and those to come Success of the Louisiana Outdoors Forever program.
Jerome “Zee” Zeringue is the Representative-Elect for District 52. The Louisiana House of Representatives can be reached at 225-342-6945.