Conservation groups, sportsmen, environmentalists and natural resource management professionals from throughout Louisiana will convene at the Holiday Inn in Gonzales where the Louisiana Wildlife Federation (LWF) will be holding its 68th Annual Convention the weekend of March 2-4.
At the meeting, delegates and directors will discuss and vote on nearly 30 resolutions that have been proposed for adoption by LWF affiliates and directors. Subjects of the resolutions range from black bear recovery, dog trespass, red snapper regulations, scenic streams, funding for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and habitat and greenspace acquisition to oilfield cleanup, conservation of coastal forests, establishment of a state coastal land trust, and public access to public waters and waterbottoms, among others.
The program begins with a social event on Friday evening when members, supporters and delegates will enjoy a fish fry and auction to raise money for LWF's conservation programs. Admission to this event is $20 or $15 for registered convention guests.
Debate on the resolutions will commence at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and run through noon in five different Conservation Committees. The Board of Directors Luncheon will follow the committee meetings at which federation officers will be elected for the new term. Tickets to the luncheon are $15 and the public is welcome to attend. Those not participating in these and other convention business meetings are invited to sign up for a tour and luncheon that includes a visit to the Cajun Village, lunch at The Cabin restaurant and shopping at Tanger Outlet Mall. The tour fee is $35 and includes convention registration.
Details of the General Session, 2:30 - 5 p.m. on Saturday, are still being finalized, but will include presentations on the New America's WETLAND Conservation Corps and the National Wildlife Federation's new initiative to recruit volunteers from across the country and throughout Louisiana to do post hurricanes habitat restoration and recovery work on state and federal wildlife lands impacted by the hurricanes; the need for a habitat and greenspace prioritization and acquisition program in Louisiana; and (tentative) the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine's vision for a new wildlife rehabilitation facility on the Vet School campus.
A highlight of the convention will be the Saturday evening presentation of the LWF's Conservation Achievement Awards at a festive banquet honoring six individuals, a husband-wife team, an organization and a business for outstanding accomplishments in 2006. The awards, handsome statuettes representing different wildlife species, are highly regarded as the top symbols of conservation achievement that are presented annually in Louisiana. The governor has been invited to present the awards along with Dr. Earl Matthew, Region 8 Director of the National Wildlife Federation. Outdoor media personality, Don Dubuc, will be the Master of Ceremonies. The names of the award winners will be released the day of the banquet. The banquet begins at 7 p.m., preceded by a 6 p.m. reception. Banquet tickets are $35.
The convention will close on Sunday morning after final action by the General Assembly of Delegates on the resolutions that have passed the committees.
LWF last met in Gonzales in 1998, almost 10 years ago.
"Ascension Parish is one of the most rapidly developing areas of the state," said LWF president, Terry L. Melancon of Prairieville. "We are losing habitat and open space hand over fist here. I hope the attention the LWF convention will bring to our area and some of the discussions we will have on preserving greenspace and wildlife habitat will stimulate our citizens and local officials to be proactive about planning the future of our community."
A preliminary convention agenda, and registration form are available on the LWF Web site at www.lawildlifefed.org or from the LWF office by calling 225-344-6707.
LWF is a statewide conservation education and advocacy organization with over 10,000 members and 25 affiliated groups throughout Louisiana. Established in 1940, it is affiliated with the National Wildlife Federation and represents a broad constituency of conservationists including hunters, fishers, birders, boaters, and other outdoor enthusiasts.
For more information, contact Randy Lanctot at 225-344-6707.