Fight for water access continues despite HB 391 vote

HB 391, a bill which would increase public access to tidal waters, did not pass the Louisiana House of Representatives yesterday. 37 State Reps voted in favor of the bill, and 59 voted against it. Click here for the official tally and to find out if your State Rep voted for or against the bill.

Members of the Louisiana Sportsmen's Coalition are understandably disappointed following yesterday's vote.

Nevertheless, the Louisiana Sportsmen's Coalition is proud of the progress this effort has made. And you, as a supporter of public water access, should be proud too.

Read the full announcement.

Water-access bill passes House of Representatives committee

House Bill 391 that would guarantee public access to tidal waterways received approval by the House of Representatives' Committee on Civil Law and Procedure, setting up a hearing on the floor of the House in coming days.

And no one was more shocked than Louisiana Sportsmen's Coalition board member Darryl Carpenter.

"I have spent so many days in the Capitol, and have heard the conversations and the lobby that's opposing it — so, yes, I am surprised it passed the committee," Carpenter said.

Read the full story.

Water access bill moves forward

Louisiana fishermen inched closer on Tuesday to re-gaining access to waters that are currently deemed private by state law. 

House Bill 391, which was authored by State Rep. Kevin Pearson (R-Slidell) passed through committee yesterday, which now moves the bill to the House of Representatives where it will be debated in the ongoing session.

The Committee on Civil Law and Procedure heard discussion about the bill, then passed it forward to the next level of government by a 5-3 vote.

Read the full story.

Sportsman's groups celebrate committee vote

The Louisiana Sportsmen’s Coalition celebrated Tuesday’s move of House Bill 391 from the Louisiana House Civil Law and Procedures Committee to the House floor.

The bill, authored by Rep. Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell, seeks to halt the increasing moves by landowners to block public access to the state’s waters affected by tides.

In addition to the Coalition, the bill attracted backing from the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

Read the full story.

Louisiana sportsmen cast campaign to access private waterways

Some Louisiana fishermen are fighting an old law that makes it illegal for them to access private waterways. They claim it's limiting their recreational space and driving dollars away from the state.

One of the main attractions of the Bayou State are the miles of scenic waterways, which have allowed Louisiana to reel visitors into what is known as Sportsman's Paradise. But with more people buying property on the water, an estimated tens of thousands of acres of the state’s treasure are no longer accessible to fishermen. Angler and secretary of the Louisiana Sportsmen’s Coalition (LASC), Sean Robbins, says property owners are taking extra steps to keep unwanted boats out.

Read the full story.

B.A.S.S. supports legislation making Louisiana's tidal waters public

B.A.S.S. has come out in support of HB 391 in the Louisiana Legislature, which would reopen navigable waters in the state to boaters and anglers.

In a press release Monday afternoon, the world’s largest fishing organization urged its Louisiana members, as well as those who travel from out of state to fish here, to support Rep. Kevin Pearson’s legislation, which is scheduled to be heard next month by the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure.

Read the full story.

B.A.S.S. Urges Louisiana Legislators To Restore Angler Access To Public Waterways

The bill, HB 391, introduced on March 1 by State Rep. Kevin Pearson (R.) of Slidell, would restrict the ability of private landowners to prohibit boater access to navigable waters flowing over or through their lands. It is currently being considered by the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure.

“For 50 years, B.A.S.S. has fought for anglers’ rights to access public waters,” said B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland. “Louisiana is one of the most important battlegrounds in the nation, especially along the Gulf Coast, where canals, ponds and bays that have been fished for many years are now being gated by those who own the land around them.”

Read the full release.

Bob's Bayou Black Marina faces closure due to canal access issue; HB 391 filed

Even as legislation seeking to make the state’s tidally-influenced waters open to public access began its journey in the Louisiana Legislature this week, a long-time marina in Gibson is facing closure early next year because the landowner is not renewing a waterway lease that ultimately provides boater access to the Intracoastal Waterway.

According to Ben Weber and Daryl Carpenter, board members of Louisiana Sportsmen’s Coalition, Bob’s Bayou Black Marina could have to close its doors effective March 1, 2019 because a new lease agreement for a 300-yard stretch of waterway couldn’t be worked out with the landowners, Williams Inc. 

Read the full story.

Liberate our waters

Louisiana is one of the only states in the nation where you can be traveling by boat on public, navigable waterways, and suddenly with no warning find that you are not.

As a result, families out for a day of fun have been subject to armed challenges from guards hired by big landowners, told to leave the unmarked, seemingly open water. The problem has become so bad that major fishing competitions are avoiding the state, and without change things could get worse.

Read the full editorial.

Bill attempts to change how water ownership is governed

A St. Tammany lawmaker has taken on the task of restoring public access to waterways increasingly deemed private by owners of the lands beneath them, a practice that has placed some landowners at odds with anglers.

In some instances firearms have been brandished by agents for property owners. Some local lawmakers have maintained that the problem must be fixed if for nothing else a greater measure of public safety.

Read the full story.

Please support House Bill 391

The Louisiana Sportsmen’s Coalition asks you to urge Legislators to support House Bill 391.

This is a great opportunity to email and call Legislators and demand they support public water access.

HB 391 would guarantee public access to certain tidally-influenced waters. LaSC representatives are working through the proper channels and requesting that some adjustments be made to the bill. Even in its current form, HB 391 is a massive step in the right direction for the thousands of anglers and tourists who recreate on our waters. It is also an amazing opportunity for LaSC members and supporters to let their voices be heard.

This bill is the opportunity we've been waiting for.

SPEAK UP.

Email Legislators quickly and easily here. You can email individual Legislators, all Reps/Sens or all members of the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure with one click of the mouse.

The 2018 Regular Session begins Monday, and HB 391 will begin in the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure. When it comes time for the Committee to hear the bill, expect a loud call-to-action from LaSC that will include requesting a strong presence at the State Capitol.

This Committee Hearing will be the first step of an on-going process. Therefore, there will be more steps that come later in this Legislative process, and your vocal participation during all of these steps is vital. 

Click here to read HB 391 in its entirety.

LaSC has put in lots of work behind the scenes to reach a point where the Louisiana Legislature can debate this issue in a public forum, and we thank Rep. Kevin Pearson for sponsoring this important bill.

Video Roundtable: Louisiana: Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?

For decades Louisiana has proclaimed itself as the “Sportsman’s Paradise.” But for today’s hunters, changes to Louisiana’s landscape have caused a decline in the quality of the state’s deer habitat and smaller game. For coastal fishermen, private property rights often unduly restrict access to waters that are considered public in any other state.

Watch the full video.

Touring Louisiana's threats to public access

About a month ago I was talking with Land Tawney, BHA’s president and CEO, when he asked me what I knew about public land issues in Louisiana.

Admittedly I didn't know a lot. I mentioned that Louisiana's system of law is based on the Napoleonic Code and the rest of the states are grounded in English Common Law – causing some legal confusion. And I’d heard about some canals owned by oil companies being gated up and public access eliminated.

Read the full story.

Petition: Stop the privitazation of public waters in Louisiana

BHA’s recently established Southeast chapter is fighting for sportsmen and public access in the wake of the pending privatization of Catahoula, the largest natural freshwater lake in Louisiana and one frequented by successive generations of Bayou State hunters. Current debate centers on whether the lake should be classified as a non-navigable river, in which case access to the land beneath and water above the lake could be posted by neighboring private landowners. In July, a district court ruled that Catahoula Lake is technically a river, sparking a potentially precedent-setting legal argument whose resolution could take months or years.

View and sign the petition.

Access in Louisiana: public or private?

Kevin Gaubert is president of the Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation, so he gets regular reports from anglers about the hottest fishing spots and the latest lures to catch the biggest bass in the Bayou State.

Gaubert is also a property owner in south Louisiana. He lives in Luling, which is a tiny town tucked beside the Mississippi River only a few miles west of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. It may sound cliché, but he’s a proud American, and he values his right to live on his own property and do with it pretty much what he pleases.

These days, Gaubert is hearing as much about property rights as he is about bass fishing, and that’s cause for alarm, he said.

Read the full story.

Land ownership, fisherman's rights creates blur, gray area

One of the nation’s most prestigious sport fishing leagues has placed Louisiana waters off limits for competitors in one of its most high-profile events, claiming that the state’s property and trespassing statutes create too much confusion and place anglers at risk.

Trip Weldon, tournament director for the Bass Anglers Sportsmen’s Society, issued a directive earlier this month that says participants in the multi-million-dollar 2018 Bassmaster Elite competition on the Sabine River, which marks the Bayou State’s western border with Texas, will have to stay on the Texas side for their catches to be eligible.

Read the full story.

OUR VIEW: Troubled waters need a fix and fast

Today’s issue of The Times includes coverage of a simple problem whose solutions appear complex.

Only in Louisiana can a private company or individual lay private claim to a waterway that cannot be fenced, gated or otherwise enclosed, and if that wasn’t bad enough, be under no requirement to post these waters so that anyone happening into them can be charged with trespassing, during and even after the fact.

Read the full story.

LaSC Press Release: BASS Tournaments Leaving Coastal Louisiana Continues Negative Trend for Sportsmen

Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) announcement that it would no longer allow participants in the Bassmaster Elite Sabine River Tournament, hosted in nearby Orange, Texas, to fish in Louisiana waters. Additionally, BASS declared in the announcement it would no longer hold tournaments on the Atchafalaya Basin because “Louisiana’s unusual laws governing access to navigable waters have created conflict and confusion among anglers.” According to BASS director of event and tourism partnerships Michael Mulone, local economies get a $2.5 million impact from each Elite Series tournament and a $2.1 million impact from each Open Series event.

Read the full press release.