2007 Annual Report

2007 Activities & Accomplishments of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation

  • LWF's efforts initiated organization of the Louisiana Prescribed Fire Council to promote safe use of controlled fire to maintain and enhance ecosystem productivity and wildlife habitat benefiting a wide range of species from the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, threatened gopher tortoise, bobwhite quail, native wildflowers, and a variety of songbirds in the piney woods and prairies, to snow geese and gators in the marsh; the Council is developing a smoke management program, recruiting trained prescribed fire practitioners and addressing liability and health issues related to the use of prescribed fire. 
     
  • LWF secured legislative approval for restoring the endangered whooping crane to the marshes of southwest Louisiana that were once home to both nonmigratory and migratory flocks of this spectacular species; research to determine feasibility is underway.
     
  • LWF was instrumental in securing the statutory dedication of certain state mineral revenues representing $19 million annually over the next 5 years to the Conservation Fund, the operating fund for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries.
     
  • LWF was successful in getting the State Land Office to post maps delineating state-owned waterbottoms on the SLO website thereby assisting anglers and other waterway users in avoiding liability for trespassing and mitigating against unfounded private claims to public waterbottoms.
     
  • LWF set the stage for the establishment of a state wildlife habitat acquisition program and supporting trust fund via legislative resolution supporting this concept and directing a report and recommendations from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for such a program.
     
  • LWF worked with the Enforcement Division of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to post the status of certain benchmark violations of state wildlife and fisheries conservation laws on the LDWF website so that interested conservationists can follow them through the judicial system to ensure that good cases receive aggressive prosecution and result in appropriate penalties.
     
  • LWF developed the concept and programmatic framework for conserving coastal wetland forests that provide important buffers against wind and storm surges from the Gulf and are also strategically important to birds and other wildlife, now being implemented through DNR's Coastal Forest Conservation Initiative.
     
  • LWF revitalized the national federal mining law reform campaign aimed at providing better protection for federal public lands from damages to fish and wildlife from mining activities; reform legislation was adopted by the US House of Representatives and is now being considered by the US Senate.
     
  • Patterned after the National Wildlife Federation’s spring “Wildlife Watch” educational programming LWF initiated a Louisiana Wildlife Watch project for its annual Earth Day exhibit “Nature in Your Neighborhood.” Due a delayed start-up at the national level as well as the short time available to roll out the concept for the E-Day celebration, participation was light, but the ’07 effort is a solid template for organizing a more timely and expanded ’08 program.
     
  • The National Wildlife Federation, in collaboration with the Louisiana Wildlife Federation initiated its Louisiana Project to recruit and deploy volunteers from throughout the country to do habitat restoration work on state and federal conservation lands damaged by the hurricanes of 2005. The target for the 12-18 month project is 2,500 volunteers contributing 60,000 hours on more than 13 sites.
     
  • LWF sponsored and conducted the 43rd Governor's State Conservation Achievement Recognition Program, awarding 8 individuals a business and an organization for outstanding conservation work.
     
  • The Louisiana Wildlife Federation held its 68th Annual Convention to develop policy/positions on important natural resource management and environmental protection issues. Convention delegates debated and adopted 25 conservation policy resolutions and heard presentations on habitat conservation needs and initiatives, the LSU Vet School Wildlife Rehabilitation Program and the National Wildlife Federation's volunteer coastal restoration project.
     
  • The LWF continued its campaign for state acquisition of Elmer's Island to preserve and reopen it for the traditional, compatible public uses of fishing, camping and birding that have endeared generations of beachcombers to its shores. Elmer's Island is a barrier beachfront located across Caminada Pass from Grand Isle in Jefferson Parish. It has been closed to the public for more than 5 years. Through LWF's efforts and that of its partners, the Trust for Public Land and the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, federal funds were made available to assist the state with acquisition of the property and a purchase agreement was obtained from the owner. Land title and appraisal issues still remain and must be resolved before the state can acquire the property. Negotiations are ongoing. The results of a user survey and economic study released by the LSU AgCenter confirmed the strong public interest in acquiring and reopening Elmer's Island and the substantial positive economic impact of public use. A conservative assessment of the survey results indicates that the cost of staffing and maintaining the area could easily be supported by the projected admission fees. LWF is firmly resolved to bring this campaign to fruition.
     
  • The Federation also 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 submitted comments on the state's comprehensive coastal protection and restoration plan and collaborated with other groups in setting the stage for the closure of the habitat-damaging Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. LWF advocated the "Coastal Lines of Defense" strategy, innovated by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, for coastal protection and restoration which has become a widely adopted paradigm for framing the development of plans for coastal protection and restoration.
     
  • LWF is continuing its effort to maintain and restore the public's right to use public waterways for outdoor activities like fishing, paddling, birding and boating. It intervened to modify state legislation to insure that the public's interest in the access to and use of tidelands will be fully considered when the state enters into agreements to fix mineral boundaries in anticipation of coastal restoration projects and land acquisitions along the coast. It has secured legislative support for the work of the State Land Office (SLO) to identify state waterbottoms the public has the right to access for fishing and boating and to make those ownership determinations available for public review via the Internet.
     
  • LWF presented a backyard habitat display and educational materials at the annual Baton Rouge Earth Day celebration; exhibited at the National Hunting and Fishing Day event in Baton Rouge and other venues, distributing National Wildlife Week posters and other conservation education material.
     
  • Local and other 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.
     
  • 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.
     
  • 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, Louisiana Pesticide Advisory Commission, Louisiana Invasive Species Task Force, America's Wetland Foundation, Hunting and Fishing Education Advisory Council, Quail & Grassland Bird Task Force, Louisiana Freshwater Recreational Fishery Task Force, among others.