While Louisiana's first wildlife conservation law was passed way back in 1857, and many regulations regarding oysters were passed in the late 1800's, it was not until 1909 that a formal body was appointed and given the task of overseeing wildlife and fisheries conservation in the State. Governor John Parker, an avid conservationist and friend and hunting partner of President Theodore Roosevelt, convinced the Louisiana Legislature in 1909 to create the Louisiana Board of Commissioners for the Protection of Birds, Game and Fish. One year later, in 1910, the Louisiana Oyster Commission (which had been created in 1902) merged with the Board of Commissioners to create the Louisiana Department of Conservation.
Act 127 of 1912 constitutionally created the Conservation Commission of Louisiana as a department of State government, with the mission of providing for the protection of birds, fish, shellfish, wild quadrupeds, forestry and mineral resources of the state.
Act 105 of 1918 changed the name of the agency back to the Department of Conservation, and directed that it be controlled by an officer known as the Commissioner of Conservation, who would be appointed by the Governor, by and with the consent of the Senate, for a term of four years.
The Department of Conservation continued in the role of lead agency in charge of wildlife and fisheries conservation until the Louisiana Department of Wild Life and Fisheries was officially created on December 11, 1944, in accordance with the terms of a Constitutional Amendment approved by the people of Louisiana on November 7, 1944.
The Amendment to the State's Constitution separated the former Department of Conservation into three independent state agencies: the Department of Wild Life and Fisheries, the Louisiana Forestry Commission, and a new Department of Conservation.
Initially, the new Department of Wild Life and Fisheries was directed by a Commissioner, who was appointed by the Governor. Governor Jimmie H. Davis appointed John G. Appel as the first Commissioner of the Department.
In 1952, another Constitutional Amendment changed the name of the Department of Wild Life and Fisheries to the Louisiana Wild Life and Fisheries Commission, and also established a commission of seven members to oversee and direct the activities of the agency. For day-to-day management and administration, the commission was directed to appoint (hire) a Director of the Commission.
This confusing terminology, with a commission (board) managing the Commission (agency), continued until 1974, when the new Louisiana Constitution was completed and approved by voters. All of the old sections and amendments regarding normal functioning and administration of the agency were removed from the Constitution, retaining only the language regarding the composition and appointment of the seven-member Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC), as follows:
Section 7. (A) Members; Terms. The control and supervision of the wildlife of the state, including all aquatic life, is vested in the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. The commission shall be in the executive branch and shall consist of seven members appointed by the governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate. Six members shall serve overlapping terms of six years, and one member shall serve a term concurrent with that of the governor. Three members shall be electors of the coastal parishes and representatives of the commercial fishing and fur industries, and four shall be electors from the state at large other than representatives of the commercial fishing and fur industries, as provided by law. No member who has served six years or more shall be eligible for reappointment.
(B) Duties; Compensation. The functions, duties, and responsibilities of the commission, and the compensation of its members, shall be provided by law.
(Constitution of the State of Louisiana (1974), Article IX - Natural Resources, ?7. Wildlife and Fisheries Commission)
The Louisiana Legislature subsequently created the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) as part of Act #720 of 1975, the Executive Reorganization Act, which legislated the establishment of twenty (20) cabinet level state agencies. The name and administrative structure of LDWF were codified in R.S. 36: ?601- ?609, and ?610 details forty-three (43) commissions and preserves that were transferred into the new Department.
While Act #720 changed the role of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission from administration to policy-making, the make-up of the Commission remains essentially the same today as when it was first conceived back in 1952: 6 members with 6-year terms plus 1 member whose term runs concurrently with the Governor. Three of the 7 members are to be representatives of the commercial fishing and fur industries from the coastal parishes, and 4 members are "other than representatives of the commercial fishing and fur industries" from the State at large.
The seven current members of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, with their appointed role and term completion date, are:
Mr. Bart R. Yakupzack, Chairman
Lake Charles, LA
Bart R. Yakupzack is lifelong resident of south Louisiana, which has been his family’s home for over four generations. An attorney with the Gray Law Firm, Bart and his wife Kathryn are raising their two children in Lake Charles. Bart received both a Bachelor of Science in wildlife and fisheries and a law degree from Louisiana State University. He has practiced oil and gas and land management related law for over 10 years.
Bart serves as a board member of the Chamber Southwest - SWLA Economic Development Alliance and served as chairman or as a council member of the Chamber Leadership Southwest program for several years. He is a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, CCA Louisiana, National Rifle Association, Louisiana Forestry Association and the LSU FWF Alumni Association. He also serves as the president of the Lake Charles Chapter of the NWTF.
Reason for serving: “It is an honor to have been appointed by Governor Jindal and to serve our state in regard to one of its assets that I am so passionate about. I consider myself blessed to have been exposed to the unique natural resources of Louisiana early in life and often. Louisiana’s wildlife and fisheries habitats, whether in a recreational or commercial setting, have cultivated people and a culture that our state and our country cannot do without.”
“In serving, I will aim to help conserve and replenish our state’s renewable natural resources so that parents and grandparents of young children in Louisiana, now and in the future, can offer the same opportunities or even better opportunities as they were afforded as children growing up here.”
Mr. Yakupzack can be contacted at:
P. O. Box 1467
Lake Charles, LA 70602
Mr. Chad J. Courville, Vice-Chairman
Chad J.Courville is a lifelong Louisiana resident who resides in Lafayette and is employed as the land manager for Miami Corporation. He is currently chairman of the Louisiana Alligator Advisory Council and a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, the Coastal Conservation Association, and the Louisiana Association of Professional Biologists.
Courville received his Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental and Sustainable Resources from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (then USL). He and wife Kylee have two children.
Reason for serving: “It is a great honor to serve the people of the State of Louisiana, and with my fellow Commissioners, as we strive to manage fish and wildlife populations within Louisiana’s vast habitats. I have been very blessed to have parents who exposed me to Louisiana’s outdoors, and I look forward to my time with fellow Commissioners to ensure that my children, and future generations, have that same opportunity.”
“Louisiana’s wildlife and fisheries resources cannot be taken for granted. There are numerous pressures on those resources from habitat loss to special interest groups. I look forward to communicating with LDWF’s knowledgeable, experienced staff, utilizing the best available science and data, and gaining public sentiment to make informed decisions on how we move forward in responsible management and utilization.”
Mr. Courville can be contacted at:
309 La Rue France, Suite 201
Lafayette, La 70508
Phone: (337) 264-1695
Fax: (337) 264-9499
Mr. Edwin “Pat” Manuel
Pat Manuel is a lifelong resident of Eunice, who received his education through Catholic school. He is currently the President of ManCo Vegetation Management Inc., as well as a member of the Board of Directors of Tri-Parish Bank. Pat’s affiliations with conservation organizations include Ducks Unlimited, Waterfowl USA, and Delta Waterfowl. He has served as Louisiana Public Service Commissioner and Louisiana State Racing Commissioner.
Reason for serving on the Commission: “I want to thank Governor Bobby Jindal for this appointment to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. We share a passion for the love of Louisiana’s outdoors and commitment to help preserve the resources of our state.”
Mr. Edwin “Pat” Manuel
P.O. Box 1046
Eunice, LA 70535
Phone: (337) 457-0101
FAX: (337) 457-7401
Mr. Billy Broussard
Commercial Fishing & Fur Representative
Billy Broussard, a coastal parish resident, serves as a representative of the commercial fishing and fur industries, as required by statute. He owns and operates Pecan Island Redfish Charters.
Reason for serving: "I have lived my entire life in and around the marshes of Louisiana and there is no place on earth that I would rather be. The good Lord has blessed Louisiana and its citizens with one of the most diverse and dynamic ecosystems on the planet. From the pine covered hills of the northwest, to the hard woods skirting the western banks of the Mississippi River, the majestic cypress dotting the Atchafalaya Basin, to the salt air and oyster grass swaying in the waves on our southern border, we have it all. Louisianaians have been given the key to the pantry of sustainable, renewable natural resources in the lower forty eight states. I hope my appointment to the Commission will afford me the opportunity to give back, just a little, to the state and way of life that has given my family and I many wonderful opportunities and memories."
Mr. Broussard can be contacted at:
27024 W. La. Highway 82
Kaplan, LA 70548
Mr. Ronald "Ronny" Graham
Ronald Graham, a lifelong Louisiana resident, was born and raised in Ruston. Graham is a general contractor and is currently the chairman of the board of Lincoln Builders, Inc.
Graham has served on the conservation programs committee for Ducks Unlimited and was chairman for the Lincoln Parish Ducks Unlimited chapter.
When asked about his motivation for serving on the commission, Mr. Graham stated, "In serving on the commission, I would like to see the public's hunting and fishing experience in Louisiana enhanced. Also, the public - both citizens and guests - should be educated on the benefits of using our vast natural resources.
"Our job as wildlife and fisheries commissioners is of crucial importance for the oversight and reinforcement of the abundant natural resources our great state has been blessed with. To protect our wealth and resources for fishing and hunting - both recreational and commercial - it is critical that we provide professional biologists and staff to monitor the effect of our ever changing environment, and educate the public on responsible stewardship of our environment for the benefit of all citizens and guests."
Mr. Graham can be contacted at:
P.O. Box 400
Ruston, LA 71273
Mrs. Julie Hebert
Commercial Fishing and Fur Representative
Concurrent with Governor’s term
Julie Hebert, a coastal parish resident, serves as a representative of the commercial fishing and fur industries, as required by statute. She owns Coastal Permitting, an environmental consulting group in Luling.
Mrs. Hebert was born in Michigan and grew up on Diamond Lake in Cassopolis, Michigan. She has been a Louisiana resident for 20 years, currently residing in St. Charles Parish. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from Indiana University in 1989. She has raised two step sons with husband Danny.
Reason for serving: “I am humbled and honored to be appointed for a position that feeds into my lifelong passion for nature, fishing and hunting resources. I am at a point in my life where I can give back and proactively facilitate, create, and reinforce the policies necessary to protect the bounty of our natural resources for future generations.
“I have embraced Louisiana as my home. With such, comes a strong understanding of the economic and cultural significance that the bounty of our natural resources has on our people. I fully understand and share the desire to pass our heritage on to the next generation. Therefore, I will do everything in my ability to assist in that endeavor.”
Mrs. Hebert can be contacted at:
P. O. Box 1528
Luling, LA 70070