2008 Annual Report

2008 Activities & Accomplishments of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation

  • The Louisiana Wildlife Federation (LWF) achieved a degree of success in its nearly 7-year campaign to preserve and reopen Elmer’s Island when, on December 15, Governor Jindal announced that 250 acres were open for public use and that negotiations to acquire the remaining acreage (approximately 1700 acres total) would continue.  Elmer's Island is a barrier headland ecosystem located across Caminada Pass from Grand Isle in Jefferson Parish.  Prior to its closure, it was a popular destination for fishing, crabbing, camping, beachcombing and birding. 
     
  • LWF was instrumental in restoring over $400,000 to the Oilfield Site Restoration Fund that is used to properly close and restore orphaned well sites.
     
  • Through LWF’s efforts, the Coastal Land Stewardship Authority was established to provide for management and administration of coastal lands that are acquired or assumed by the state through coastal protection and restoration projects and to provide for appropriate public uses of such lands.  
     
  • LWF continued to provide direction for the development of the Coastal Forest Conservation Initiative to protect forests that provide important buffers against wind and storm surges from the Gulf and that are also important to birds and other wildlife.     
     
  • The LWF, in collaboration with the National Wildlife Federation’s Louisiana Project, organized a wood duck box building session with the East Ascension Sportsman’s League and a marsh planting project in Vermilion Parish and assisted with several tree planting projects on state and federal coastal lands.  
     
  • LWF joined the National Wildlife Federation and other NWF affiliates in a lawsuit successfully challenging the US Dept. of Agriculture’s proposed rule to allow haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program lands.  A settlement was reached preserving the integrity of CRP while making allowances for exceptions under legitimate emergency circumstances.      
     
  • LWF continued its long involvement in the conservation and protection of the Atchafalaya Basin by successfully intervening to relocate a proposed gas well outside of a sensitive wildlife impoundment on the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area in the Basin; supported the restructuring of the Atchafalaya Basin Program (ABP) to focus on improving water quality, habitat and public recreational opportunities; and supported an initiative, ultimately unsuccessful, that would have dedicated a portion of the revenue generated from mineral production on state lands in the Basin to the ABP. 
     
  • LWF successfully supported the nomination of Bayou Manchac for the Louisiana Natural & Scenic Rivers System and the designation of Drakes Creek in Vernon Parish as a state scenic stream. 
     
  • The Federation continues to play an important supporting role in garnering national attention and support for stemming the loss of the Mississippi River Coastal Delta through its work with the America's WETLAND Campaign and the National Wildlife Federation.  LWF collaborated with other groups in setting the stage for the closure of the habitat-damaging Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.   
     
  • LWF continued its effort to maintain and restore the public's right to use public waterways for outdoor activities like fishing, paddling, birding and boating.  In 2008 it was unsuccessful in initial efforts to enact state law clarifying the public’s right to fish on navigable waterways overflowing private waterbottoms – a routine circumstance in the overflow riverbottoms of the state.
     
  • LWF worked on amending the federal mining law to be more protective of federal public lands and the natural resources dependent on them.  After the US House of Representatives adopted a strong reform bill in late 2007, the US Senate delayed action due to retirement of Senate leaders and election year distractions.
     
  • In its watchdog role, LWF followed up with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries and Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries Commission after the unfortunate killing of a wild cougar in Bossier City to assure that steps are being taken and protocols implemented to avoid similar future outcomes. 
     
  • LWF submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding the avoidance of adverse surface and groundwater impacts associated with the leaching of a natural gas storage cavern in St. Landry Parish.
     
  • LWF monitored legislative proposals concerning natural resources conservation and environmental quality and provided representation before the Louisiana Legislature, the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, and other decision-making bodies.  LWF reports on the status of legislation to its members and the outdoor media in an effort to keep the public apprized of legislation that can impact the natural resources, environment and recreational opportunities in the state, and publishes the report on its website, www.lawildlifefed.org.
     
  • LWF continues to advocate for a sensible state policy on reservoir development that prioritizes projects based on the state's ground and surface water supply needs and thoroughly evaluates the impacts to fish and wildlife habitat before funds are allocated for land acquisition, detailed engineering and other pre-project work that tends to commit the state to construction regardless of the merits and adverse impacts of the projects.
     
  • A ten year campaign waged by local conservationists, including the LWF, to expand the boundary of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve was culminated with the passage of the Omnibus Land Act by the US Congress.  The law added 3,000 acres of wetlands to the Preserve that is located on the New Orleans Metro Area Westbank near Marrero. 
     
  • LWF joined many other conservation organizations in supporting the EPA’s veto of the Yazoo pumps project that would have drained thousands of acres of wetlands in the backwaters of the Yazoo River in Mississippi.
     
  • LWF presented a “Nature in Your Neighborhood” backyard habitat exhibit at the annual Louisiana Earth Day celebration and exhibited at the National Hunting and Fishing Day event in Baton Rouge, the New Orleans City Park Big Bass Fishing Rodeo and other venues distributing conservation education material, and held the second “Wildlife Watch” contest in conjunction with the Earth Day Celebration.  Plans are to expand the program for 2009.
     
  • LWF sponsored and conducted the 44th Governor's State Conservation Achievement Recognition Program, awarding 7 individuals, a business, and an organization for outstanding conservation work.
     
  • The Louisiana Wildlife Federation held its 69th Annual Convention to develop policy/positions on important natural resource management and environmental protection issues.  Convention delegates debated and adopted 16 conservation policy resolutions and heard presentations on the State Wildlife Action Plan, Climate Change, and Leadership Development.
     
  • Local and statewide organizations affiliated with the Louisiana Wildlife Federation conducted various activities such as organizing youth fishing events, hunter education classes, litter pick-ups, wood duck and bluebird nest box building and placement projects, etc.
     
  • The Louisiana Wildlife Federation was represented on numerous panels, task forces and committees pertaining to natural resources conservation and the quality of the environment including the Oilfield Site Restoration Commission, Groundwater Management Advisory Task Force, Atchafalaya Basin Program Advisory Committee and additional ABP working subcommittees, Habitat Advisory Panel of the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council, Management Conference of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, Pesticide Advisory Commission, America's Wetland Foundation, Hunting and Fishing Education Advisory Council, Quail & Grassland Bird Task Force, Freshwater Recreational Fishery Task Force, Prescribed Fire Council, among others.
     
  • LWF contractors completed a survey of the avifauna of a portion of coastal Vermilion Parish that was impacted by Hurricane Rita and submitted a report for publication in Louisiana WILDLIFE Federation magazine.