Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program is a great win for our state

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2022

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What a great day for Louisiana!

Louisianians have been born and raised to appreciate and enjoy our beautiful state as the Sportsman’s Paradise. I sponsored House Bill 762 creating the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program because it will allow us to increase the conservation of our natural resources, leverage new funding to continue those efforts, and provide our citizens with a better quality of life for generations to come.

I want to thank my colleagues in the Louisiana Legislature for supporting and passing this bill. They know how important conservation of water, wildlife, natural areas, forests and farmland are to protecting 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 annually and supports $3.4 billion in wages and salaries. Thanks to the $10 million appropriation of seed money to initially fund the program; those numbers can grow with our ability to bring down and match tens of millions of federal and private dollars for conservation.

Louisiana Outdoor Forever projects will include land conservation or management, including fish and wildlife habitats; recreational properties related to important natural areas and public use; and historic properties adjacent to or integral to habitat restoration or enhancement. Projects will also address drinking water supply protection through upstream conservation efforts as well as supporting our working farms and forests vital to our future – environmentally and economically.

The passage of this crucial legislation was long overdue and could not have come at a better time for our state. No longer can Louisiana be held up as the only state in the Southeast without a dedicated conservation funding program. Now we have the opportunity to move to the forefront and take the lead in securing our natural resources, protecting our water supplies and conserving wildlife habitats. We must make this serious investment now to preserve our state for future generations.

While the future is looking brighter with the passage of House Bill 762 and the creation of the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program, there is still much 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, the 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 dedicated to preserving Louisiana’s place as a Sportsman’s Paradise and ensuring the future success of the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program.

Jerome “Zee” Zeringue is the elected representative of District 52. The Louisiana House of Representatives be reached at 225-342-6945.