Oyster Lease Moratorium May End Soon
National Wildlife Federation
The Special Advisory Committee to the Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries (LAWF) Commission met on Jan. 11 at the Water Life Museum in Houma, La. to review draft rules to end Louisiana’s nearly eight-year long oyster lease moratorium. The moratorium has been in place since March 7, 2002.
The commission is required by law to develop rules to lift the moratorium. The rules must be developed in conjunction with a special committee composed of representatives from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, the Louisiana Oyster Task Force, the Louisiana Landowner's Association, the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association and the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.
At the meeting, the committee reviewed a draft report outlining the rules and made a few edits. They included an adjustment of language related to rent-delinquent leases. Under the draft report, such leases will be canceled, placed in a general pool, and will be subject to the new policy recommendations outlined in the draft report. The LAWF administrative staff is generating a revised report that will then be issued to the committee for final approval.
For more information, contact Heather Warner-Finley at 225-765-2956 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Potential for High-Paying, Green Jobs in Coastal Louisiana
Environmental Defense Fund
Restoring coastal Louisiana offers the opportunity to create high-paying jobs for thousands of the state’s residents. Rehabilitating the state’s marshlands will involve a wide range of professionals from biologists to engineers and hydrologists. In addition, the construction and caretaking of natural habitats will create steady demand for dredge operators, landscapers, maintenance crew members, and tour guides in the Louisiana Coastal Area.
An expanded drive to restore Louisiana’s wetlands could have beneficial impacts on the state’s wage distribution. Louisiana’s economy at present (see chart), with its heavy-reliance on tourism and the oil and gas sector, has a higher percentage of its workforce in low-paying jobs than the United States as a whole.
Tourism-related jobs, such as food preparation and casino operations pay around $7 to $10/hour. In contrast, restoration-related jobs pay an average of $10 to $25/hour (see chart). Unlike the oil and gas sector, which is increasingly offshoring employment to platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, wetland restoration involves jobs within the state, expanding the pool of potential employees.
The spillover effects of higher wages on the local economy, and the natural benefits and storm surge protection afforded by restored coastal marshes, provide compelling reasons for the U.S. Congress to prioritize coastal Louisiana wetland restoration in its stimulus funding this year.
New Partnership Engages Sportsmen to Raise Profile of Coastal Restoration
National Wildlife Federation
Ducks Unlimited (DU) and National Wildlife Federation (NWF) recently partnered to advocate for restoration of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. The partnership aims to raise the profile of coastal Louisiana restoration to the national level through sportsman and Congressional-level education efforts.
Louisiana’s wetlands are not only a paradise for hunters and anglers. They also are critical for America’s shipping and energy needs, serving as the main port to much of the United States. Unfortunately, these wetlands that are so vital for wildlife and people are sinking underwater at an alarming rate.
The partnership’s sportsmen education efforts include a report targeted to waterfowl hunters, explaining the importance of coastal Louisiana restoration for hunting in the Mississippi River flyway. Related to this issue, NWF recently launched a website called VanishingParadise.org that will educate sportsmen and build support for restoration and recreation opportunities. The partnership also will generate a national sign-on letter to Congress from more than 300 local, state, and national sportsmen organizations and businesses.
Congressional educational efforts will include a congressional briefing and a tour of coastal Louisiana. Ultimately, the goal is to identify three or more congressional champions outside of the state to help make coastal Louisiana restoration a national priority.
For more information contact Ducks Unlimited’s Director of Public Policy Bart James or National Wildlife Federation’s Senior Manager for Sportsmen Leadership Land Tawney.
Audubon Chapters to Advocate for Coastal Louisiana Restoration
National Audubon Society
National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation hosted Audubon chapter leaders from seven Mississippi River states in Louisiana on Jan. 15-17. The event educated leaders and challenged them to find ways of building support for coastal Louisiana restoration throughout the Mississippi River basin.
Attendees learned about coastal Louisiana from a panel of Audubon and NWF staff and participated in a field trip during which they heard from National Park Service's Chief of Planning and Resource Stewardship for Louisiana's Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve David Muth, Louisiana Wildlife Federation's Executive Director Randy Lanctot, The Nature Conservancy's Grand Isle Program Director Jean Landry and Grand Isle Port Commission's Executive Director Wayne Keller.
Participants also attended an activist training session so that they could return to their organizations and communities as advocates for restoration. The response from participants was enthusiastic.
“Enlightening, educational, and, dare I say, motivational ... [we] will do our utmost to advocate and educate on the issue at hand,” said Dr. Bill Faber of Brainerd, Minn.
America's Great Waters Coalition Officially Launched
Malia Hale and Jennifer Hill,
National Wildlife Federation
After years of work to unify the restoration community, more than 30 national and regional organizations officially launched the America’s Great Waters Coalition on Dec. 8. The coalition will work to elevate restoration efforts to a national priority, secure sustainable funding for restoration, and ensure sound implementation of restoration projects. Additionally, the coalition will provide a forum for information sharing as ecosystems across the country experiment with new projects and policies.
The nine large aquatic ecosystems currently represented in the coalition are the Chesapeake Bay, Coastal Louisiana, the Everglades, Great Lakes, Gulf of Maine, Long Island Sound, Mississippi River, Puget Sound, and San Francisco/Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Each of these ecosystems is represented on the 17 member steering committee.
The steering committee recently met for the first time to determine the coalition’s initial priorities. The coalition’s mantra, “lift all (restoration) boats,” will guide its policy decisions; the coalition will look to support broad national environmental programs.
If you are interested in learning more about the coalition, or would like to be added to the coalition listserv, please email Malia Hale.