This hunter doesn’t have a lot of time to scout, so he uses timers to know when to be in the woods.
Senators and representatives, who have to go to the voters every certain number of years and ask for their jobs back, are necessarily influenced by public opinion. Because of that, they state, almost unanimously, that correspondence they receive from their constituents voicing support for or opposition to a particular cause is powerful. Each phone call, letter or e-mail represents the beliefs of a thousand, most politicians say.
That’s true in the publishing world as well. Most stories that appear in Louisiana Sportsman generate little response. Somebody might read a story on a particular area out of Lafitte, go there and fish it, and if they have success, they might drop me an e-mail telling me about their trip with, perhaps, a few pictures attached.
But by and large, I’m not inundated with correspondence.
Every now and then, however, something will strike a chord, and the phone rings, the e-mail transmission soars and the mail takes a sack to be delivered.
That has happened with the “Paradise Lost” series the Sportsman ran in the August issue regarding coastal erosion. Readers have been appalled to see, in both scientific and practical terms, how quickly Louisiana is losing its coast and how little time is left.
Most letters, e-mails and phone calls have contained a question: What can I really do?
Well, we can all take several big strides forward on Oct. 4 by going to the polls and voting yes to three crucial amendments, the first three on the ballot. Here they are, and what they’ll accomplish:
• Amendment No. 1 — Lets the state use at least $35 million a year in mineral settlement money and in other one-time revenues to match federal dollars for coastal restoration. It would add coastal restoration to the list of uses for this one-time money. It also raises the cap from $40 million to $500 million for unobligated funds that can be deposited into the state’s Coastal Restoration Fund.
• Amendment No. 2 — Provides that if the state sells the remaining 40 percent of its tobacco settlement, it can use up to 20 percent of that money for coastal restoration, but only if the federal government matches the money. This could mean up to $130 million for the state to use as its share of the costs, and shows the state’s commitment to the effort.
• Amendment No. 3 — Sets the state’s liability for damages caused to private property from coastal restoration projects, based on the fair-market value of that property. This amendment provides that all past, present and future claims would be addressed consistently, and that if property must be taken to accommodate for a restoration project, the value will be determined by the fair-market value of that property — just like current federal law allows. Almost all other states in our nation handle claims such as these in this manner.
The federal government is never going to take seriously the loss of Louisiana’s valuable coast until Louisiana takes it seriously, and the only way for us to demonstrate that we’re ready to take action is by funneling money toward it. That’s the way Florida did it to win federal approval for an $8 billion plan to save the Everglades. Many people don’t realize this, but Florida had to put up half of that money.
Louisiana may not be able to afford half of the $14 billion it’ll take to save our coast, but we’ll have to pay a significant portion.
Voting yes to Amendments 1, 2 and 3 will help us take three big steps down that road.