Dear Legislator,

Please support House Bill 391.

Louisiana is the only state in America that does not guarantee public access to tidally influenced waters, and I believe that is wrong. Reduced access to Louisiana’s waterways limits recreational fishing, boating and other outdoor activities, effectively denying the next generation from carrying on our outdoor heritage while negatively impacting tourism, threatening businesses and hurting the economy.

Anglers and boaters are receiving trespassing tickets. Many otherwise upstanding citizens now have criminal records simply because they traversed above a private water bottom – often unknowingly. Some fishermen and boaters have been threatened with violence and it is only a matter of time before a tragic situation results from this tension.

In addition to hindering Louisiana citizens and visitors from living our sportsman’s heritage, the economic impacts reach far beyond the individual angler. Recreational fishing in Louisiana is a $1.5 billion annual industry supporting more than 13,000 jobs, according to American Sportfishing Association 2011 data.

B.A.S.S. announced it will no longer hold tournaments in coastal Louisiana, costing local economies more than $2 million for every tournament not held. A range of small-town businesses including hotels, restaurants, gas stations, tackle shops and boat dealerships will feel the effects of diminishing public access to our waterways.

Tourists will stop bringing their money here. Many businesses will suffer and ultimately disappear.

Current Louisiana law tells people to stay off the water and spend their time and money elsewhere. This is unacceptable. These laws must change.

Please support House Bill 391 and any other pieces of legislation which would protect public access to tidally-influenced waters before the next generation knows nothing of Sportsmen’s Paradise.

The economy, culture, and legacy of Louisiana are too important to ignore.

I hope you agree.