Veterans Day is Tuesday. Take time to recognize everyone who’s worn a uniform in service to our country. The time they took from their lives to serve you was an honor for them, and it must merit some of your time to honor them.

A time that’s come

Tommy Tuma, the overseer of the state’s Wildlife Management Area Program, presented what turned out to be the highlight of Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting.

Tuma outlined a first Master Plan for Wildlife Management Areas and Refuges, a long-overdue document that should enhance our use of the 1.6 million acres the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries owns or manages for us.

Yes, for us. Without us using these WMAs, there’s little benefit in the LDWF spending its resources to operate this vast acreage.

The first glance at the 84-page document proves there were hundreds of hours spent coming up with the plan’s goals. Funds came from the LDWF and the nonprofit Conservation Fund.

Tuma outlined the Master Plan’s goals to include:

  • Sustaining a range of facilities and public uses;
  • Providing a “green” infrastructure vision to implement and manage landscape-scale conservation;
  • Identifying focused restoration efforts to maximize positive impact for ecosystems. The plan is to engage, then leverage the resources of partnerships with groups that have matching funds for specific-use programs;
  • Providing a comprehensive vision for landscape-scale adaptive management for the LDWF and partners;
  • Providing the public, LDWF personnel and stakeholders with a used reference document on important information and policies;
  • And promoting adaptive management through research and monitoring.

That’s a lot of bureaucratic words, all of which translates into a much-needed, prioritized outline of programs to further open these areas to us — hunters, fishermen and nonconsumptive users like birders and hikers.

We can hope that among the 1.6 million acres there’s room for everyone in this plan. And there’s hope that access is a priority to include better roads, bridges and boat launches.

Tuma said the plan is a working document and said he expects changes as needed over the next five years.

That comes with the hope that the LDWF can work with the Office of Tourism to let folks around the country know that our public lands are, truly, public. That will give us a chance to enhance wildlife watchers to further add to the estimated $2 billion that activity brings to our state. The LDWF-Conservation Fund joint statement identified and estimated $200 million in tax revenue and “approximately 82,000 jobs in Louisiana” from this activity.

And what we’ve all learned is that 2 billion or 200 million or 82,000 of anything that helps our state is nothing to be taken lightly.