The celebration begins Friday in Baton Rouge, and, with the chapters’ events notwithstanding, Coastal Conservation Association-Louisiana is throwing its biggest party of the year at the Hilton Capitol Center in downtown Baton Rouge.
While there are meetings for the dozens of chapters spread across the state, and there’s the highly competitive, Chapter Cook-off and Tailgate Party set from 5:30-9 p.m. Saturday, the headliner is Friday’s 6-10 p.m. Hall of Fame Induction and Awards banquet.
CCA-Louisiana’s 2016 Conservationist of the Year is Louisiana Congressman Garret Graves, and its Hall of Fame inductees are Baton Rougeans Camp Matens and Rich Donaldson and Lafayette’s Scott Foster, the long-serving volunteer who passed away last year.
CCA also revealed Gov. John Bel Edwards will speak during Saturday’s 9 a.m. State Board Meeting, and that Lt. Gov. Bill Nungesser will address the group at Friday’s 11:30 a.m. Leadership Kickoff luncheon.
Graves will receive the Jerry Stone Conservationist of the Year Award named for the Baton Rouge physician and dedicated conservationist.
“Garret Graves has been a champion for conservation since being elected to Congress in 2014, and before that, during his service in state government,” CCA boss David Cresson said. “As an outdoorsman himself, Garret truly understands the importance of good stewardship and sound fisheries management, and these principals shine through in his work.”
Graves’ 2015 work in Congress included introducing the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority Act, the still-debated legislation that would transfer red snapper management from federal control to the five Gulf states.
Before his run to Congress, Graves was chairman of the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. He and his staff introduced the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan to protect and restore Louisiana’s coast.
During his CPRA tenure, Graves was the state’s lead representative on the Natural Resources Damage Assessment and RESTORE Act councils in the aftermath of the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
The induction of Matens, Donaldson and Foster pushes CCA-Louisiana’s Hall of Fame to 20 members.
Donaldson is a founding member of the Baton Rouge Chapter, which is among the older and larger chapters in the country. He has served in local, statewide and national boards and continues to be active in CCA’s efforts in the Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program, the Cooperative Marine Fish Tagging Program and the CCA fish cleaning team, which travels to fishing rodeos, the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo being the biggest, to clear and prepare rodeo-caught fish for local food banks.
Matens is a CCA National Board member and the state’s recreational fishing rep on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. He also serves on the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission. He began his political activism involving fisheries matters with the push to ban gill nets in state waters and have redfish declared the state’s only saltwater gamefish. He chairs CCA’s Government Affairs Committee in the state and is a founding member of CCA’s Louisiana Legacy Program.
Foster was a longtime member of the Acadiana Chapter, served on the CCA-L Board of Directors, the S.T.A.R. Committee chaired his chapter’s banquet.
CCA’s release also announced former state Wildlife and Fisheries’ secretary Robert Barham will receive the CCA Louisiana Board of Director’s Award for his leadership in that state agency, and Advocate Outdoor’s writer Joe Macaluso will be honored “for his 43 years of conservation leadership as a member of the media.”
Registration is required for the state convention and advanced tickets for Friday’s banquet are available by calling the CCA headquarters at (225) 952-9200 and by emailing Katie Laurent: firstname.lastname@example.org.