Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Dec. 15 that Elmer's Island, a once popular destination for coastal fishermen, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts, is open again for public recreational use. The state is opening 250 acres of Elmer's Island for public use after extensive title research found that this portion of the island is the property of Louisiana.

"Louisiana is Sportsman's Paradise — and Elmer's Island is certainly one of our state's jewels — and we are excited to announce that it is now open to the public," Jindal said at a press conference. "The state will keep this area as a recreation spot and a wildlife sanctuary, while also allowing fishing and bird watching. Louisiana is committed to making sure the beaches and marshes of Elmer's and surrounding areas are restored and enhanced."

Jindal said that LDWF would manage Elmer's Island as a wildlife refuge with boat access to the beach allowed immediately. Efforts will continue to negotiate a right-of-way for a road that will connect the beach to Highway 1 to allow vehicular access to the beach in the future.

"After exhaustive legal research, it has been determined that the Goat Island property, which is the barrier island portion of the property generally referred to as Elmer's Island, is state land," said LWDF Secretary Robert Barham.
"By designating it a wildlife refuge, the property will be available for fishing and outdoor activities. The only permit needed for site use will be a fishing license for those who choose to do so."

Elmer's was a commercial campground and fishing area from 1970-2000. For a small daily fee, fishermen, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts were allowed access to the beach on a narrow road through marsh from Highway 1. However, that access was closed following the death of the owner of the access road.

Efforts have been made over the last five years by the state legislature and past administrations to purchase Elmer's Island to allow for public fishing and recreation with no success. The state will continue working with the various property owners in the Elmer's Island vicinity to acquire much of the area for coastal restoration efforts and recreational use.

In addition to opening Elmer's Island for recreational use, the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration is also working to restore the beach and wetlands in the area to repair significant damage caused by the four hurricanes that have impacted the area over the past three years. The Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration is dedicating $71 million over the next two years to a large-scale restoration effort for the area.