In the 2014 governor’s budget proposal, it is recommended that the Atchafalaya Basin Program be eliminated from the Department of Natural Resources’ oversight. The Atchafalaya Basin is an ecological, recreational and economic asset that has garnered the support of conservationists and sportsmen statewide to optimize the management of this national treasure.

It is now in a strong posture to, once and for all, be connected, ecologically and legislatively, to Louisiana’s holistic vision for ecosystem restoration opportunities for the coastal area of our state. Only two and a half years ago, approximately 60 percent of Louisianians statewide indicated their support of the Atchafalaya Basin Program and strongly supported legislation that devotes a share of mineral royalties coming from the basin to be dedicated toward its improvement.

In recent years, through support of the state Legislature, the program has been developing tools to analyze and manage the basin through the lens of sound science. This has resulted in new understanding of this vital natural area that benefits our communities, birds and other wildlife.

It is imperative that good policy decisions ensure the full potential of the Atchafalaya Basin Program. This can be realized through its integration with Louisiana’s critical coastal restoration and management programs.

Douglas Meffert

vice president/executive director

National Audubon Society/Louisiana State Program

Baton Rouge