BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD)- With the passing of House Bill 762 Louisiana is no longer the only state in the south east that does not have a dedicated conservation funding program. 

The bill, passed both in the house and the senate, was created by Representative Jerome Zeringue of District 52, it will create the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program. It’s a victory Zeringue said is long overdue for the state. 

“The important thing is we make the investments now, because we want to protect this for future generations,” said Zeringue. “It allows us to utilize some state funding to bring down tens of millions of federal dollars for the purposes of conservation.”

The bill  provides $10M in seed money for the program’s first year, helping with the mission of conserving natural resources, improving the quality of outdoor recreation, and boosting tourism. 

“Economically, tourism is a big draw for Louisiana, so it’s important to the people who live here but it’s also important for people when they come to Louisiana,” said Zeringue. “What do you think about? You think about Mardi Gras, you think about you think about New Orleans, but you also think about fishing and hunting and also birding and all the other beneficial things that this fund will help support.”

The program aims to support projects across the state in rural and urban areas from protecting drinking water supplies to conserving wildlife habitats. 

“Everyone in Louisiana will benefit from the projects that we will be able to implement, from the watershed initiatives, to from farms and families. Louisiana is the sportsman’s paradise and this again will enhance that.” said Zeringue.

Conservation projects are expected to start as early as 2023.