Connecting Sportsmen with State Legislators
From fishing in the marshes of Plaquemines Parish to meeting in the Senate Chambers in Baton Rouge, our Vanishing Paradise Sporting Council team has made big connections and a big difference for the future of our coast!
By Erin Brown Willhoft
Vanishing Paradise Sportsmen Outreach Coordinator
"Each time I come down to the marsh, I'm reminded of how beautiful it is. Nothing compares with it anywhere in the United States."
- Senator Francis Thompson, Louisiana District 31
Vanishing Paradise Sporting Council member, Captain Ryan Lambert, discussing coastal issues with the Louisiana Delegation of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.
This spring, Vanishing Paradise (VP) had the privilege to connect sportsmen leaders with Louisiana legislators from all corners of the state. We’ve spent time with more than 20 legislators, educating them about the importance of implementing key projects in the Coastal Master Plan to help save our vanishing delta. And importantly, we also had a great time! From fishing in the marshes of Plaquemines Parish to meeting in the Senate Chambers in Baton Rouge, our Vanishing Paradise Sporting Council team made big connections and a big difference for the future of our coast.
It all came together last summer when VP Sporting Council member, Captain Ryan Lambert of Cajun Fishing Adventures, met with his local senator as part of our coastal education outreach work. Senator Smith (R-Norco) is a member of the Louisiana Delegation of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and at his suggestion, Captain Lambert invited the members of the delegation to his lodge in Buras, Louisiana to see firsthand what’s happening along our coast.
Ten legislators from across Louisiana convened at Cajun Fishing Adventures this March. The legislators were greeted with a briefing from VP, Audubon Louisiana and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
We later embarked on an exciting fishing adventure in the marshes of Plaquemines Parish, reeling in trout and drum. Some were even lucky enough to get their limits of redfish. It was evident to them just how important of a coastal estuary this is, to not only the sportsmen of Louisiana, but the sportsmen that travel from all over the world to be a part of “Sportsmen’s Paradise”.
Louisiana Representative Kevin Pearson (R - District 76) proving his fishing skills.
After a few successful hours of fishing, we headed back to the lodge to meet with Brian Lezina, Planning and Research Division Manager for the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Brian told us about the history of Louisiana’s coast, how we got to where we are today, completed projects from the Coastal Master Plan, and other proposed priority projects that would affect hunters and anglers of Louisiana.
"I've always been so proud of us being the Sportsman's Paradise, but we can't be the Sportsman's Paradise if we've lost 30% of our marsh lands."
On the heels of a great fishing trip, Vanishing Paradise was able to continue our legislative work during Coastal Day 2019! On April 22, our team brought six VP Sporting Council members to the state capitol to meet with their legislators as part of a larger gathering of coastal supporters. When we asked Sporting Council member, Burton Angelle, why he chose to drive in from Lafayette for the day at the Capitol, Burton said, “As a sportsman, I try to attend any event that supports our precious coast and when politics are involved, it is crucial that our voice is heard and the sportsman’s representation is felt”.
Captain Ryan Lambert, Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA 6th District) and Sporting Council member Sean Turner.
Our crew of six rocked the day, meeting with 15 state legislators (and one member of Congress) to share the importance of the Coastal Master Plan to sportsmen and the importance of the passage of the Annual Plan (the $2.48 billion, 3-year budget projection for Louisiana coastal restoration and protection) during this legislative session. Many of those who we met with were also who we fished with the month before!
We are happy to report that our voices were definitely heard. The legislature unanimously voted to pass the Annual Plan and also voted to dedicate $55 million of the state surplus to the state’s Coastal Trust Fund. This is a critical show of support for our coast and a testament to the power of concerned citizens speaking up!
We deeply appreciate the VP Sporting Council members and their important work to help restore the delta. And yes, we’re working diligently to plan our second annual fishing trip with the Louisiana Delegation of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. If you’re interested in learning more about the VP Sporting Council and how you can use your voice to support coastal restoration, visit www.vanishingparadise.org.