LAFOURCHE PARISH GAME AND FISH COMMISSION
The creation of the Lake Field Game and Fish Preserve (LF Preserve) [the predecessor of the Lake Field/Lake Long Preserve (LF/LL Preserve)] and the Lake Field Game and Fish Management Commission (LFGFM Commission) [the predecessor of the Lafourche Parish Game and Fish Commission (LPGF Commission] can be traced back to the early 1960s when interest grew to establish and manage a broad-based recreational area in Lake Fields and surrounding state lands. The decline in habitat, water quality, sport fishing, and waterfowl hunting in Lake Fields due to the inflow of degraded water from the upper watershed were underlying factors behind this proposal.
Officials of the Town of Lockport, Lafourche Parish Recreation District Number 1, and the Lafourche Parish Police Jury (Jury) were approached by local citizens to solicit state assistance to improve Lake Fields and to possibly transfer the state property around Lake Fields to a local governmental entity. These officials later met with state Representative Richard Guidry and Senator Harvey Peltier, Jr. to discuss state legislation to establish local control over Lake Fields. Nolan Toups, mayor of Lockport, was appointed temporary chairman of an ad hoc committee to research the issues and to write a bill that would establish a local preserve and a governing commission.
The ad hoc committee drafted the bill which would establish the LF Preserve, create the LFGFM Commission, and authorize the LFGFM Commission to manage the Preserve. Representative Richard Guidry and Senator Harvey Peltier, Jr., introduced the legislation during a Special Session of the Louisiana Legislature in 1965. The bill, however, was withdrawn because of issues identified by landowners adjacent the Preserve and of time constraints of the Special Session. A revised bill was then reintroduced by Representative Richard Guidry and Senator Harvey Peltier, Jr., in the 1966 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature, and the bill passed and was signed by the Governor.
The first meeting of the LFGFM Commission was held on Tuesday, December 13, 1966 at the Lockport Town Hall. Six commissioners (Nolan Toups, Oville Barker, Frank Daviet, Ashton Chiasson, and Adam Loupe) were sworn in by the temporary chairman, attorney Eugene Gouaux. Each commissioner was granted a term of office ranging from one to five years.
At the first meeting, the commissioners elected officers (Chairman - Nolan Toups; Vice Chairman - Frank Daviet; Secretary - Oville Barker; and, Treasurer - Ashton Chiasson), established an Advisory Board with Adam Loupe as Chairman, and passed a resolution recognizing Representative Richard Guidry, Senator Harvey Peltier, Jr., and Ellen Moore and Ory Poret of the State Land Office for their role in establishment of the LF Preserve and LFGFM Commission.
At later meetings the remaining members of the Advisory Board were appointed: Earl Brown, Leroy Robiski, Willie Brown, Eugene Folse, Robert Folse, George Foret, Harold Folse, Eldon Guidroz, Harold Arabie Sr., and Lionel Babin. The role of the Advisory Board during the early years of the LFGFM Commission is not documented, and the board is no longer active. The Lake Fields Improvement Club, which was active at least through the early 1980s, was not an official group created by LFGFM Commission action or parish ordinance.
Legislation passed by the Louisiana Legislature in 1977 transferred the LF Preserve to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and abolished the LFGFM Commission. An option, however, provided that that the governing authority of a parish could appoint a game and fish commission. In 1981 the Louisiana Legislature enacted legislation which reaffirmed the authority of the Parish to appoint one or more game and fish commissions. The LDWF relinquished its control over the LF Preserve and the Lafourche Parish Jury subsequently adopted an ordinance (see next section) which reestablished a parish commission over the LF Preserve.
The LPGF Commission was established through several State of Louisiana statutes and Lafourche Parish Jury (Jury) or Council (Council) ordinances.
In 1966, state legislation (Act 379, LA R.S. 56:802) established the LF Preserve and the LFGFM Commission with authority and control over the Preserve. The LF Preserve was defined as that land along Lake Fields below mean high water mark as shown by the 1857 historic meander line of record, less any property sold or transferred by the State of Louisiana. The powers and authorities of the LFGFM Commission were delineated, with all rules concerning take of fish and wildlife also requiring approval by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC). LA R.S. 56:802 further provided for commission membership, qualifications, and domicile, and other matters. Act 379 also included LA R.S. 56:721-728, which provided for the authorization, rules and regulations, membership, and general duties and responsibilities of parish commissions. Additionally, it granted the parish governing authority to establish, maintain, and operate game and fish preserves and to appoint a commission comprised of parish citizens and taxpayers, whose term would be concurrent with that of the governing authority, who would serve without compensation, and who would be known as a fish and game commission.
In 1977, Act 222 of the Louisiana Legislature enacted LA R.S. 56:801 and LA R.S. 36:610. LA R.S. 56:801 transferred the LF Preserve to LDWF but stipulated that it would continue in full force and effect. LA R.S. 36:610 abolished the LFGFM Commission and its powers, duties, functions, and responsibilities were transferred to the Secretary of the LDWF. However, LA R.S. 36:610 also provided the option that the governing authority of a parish could appoint a game and fish commission who could exercise those powers, duties, and functions provided in LA R.S. 56:721-728 in relation to any game and fish preserve for which a commission was abolished.
In 1981, Act 858 of the Louisiana Legislature enacted LA R.S. 56:722.1 and LA R.S. 56:802. LA R.S. 56:722.1 reaffirmed the authority of the Lafourche Parish government to appoint one or more game and fish commissions, each of which would be composed of seven citizens and taxpayers of the parish, whose terms would be at the pleasure of the Parish, and who would serve without compensation. These commissions could implement rules and regulations for the government, regulation, and control of the LF Preserve, and for the conservation, protection, and propagation of game and fish; however, all game and fish regulations would also be subject to approval and adoption by the LWFC.
LA R.S. 56:802 clarified the responsibilities and duties of the LDWF and parish commissions. The LDWF was assigned the duty and responsibility for resource management, including water level control, aquatic weed control, and maintenance and repair of dams, control structures, and spillways within the territorial jurisdiction of each commission. The individual preserve commission, or local governing authority, was given the duty and responsibility for maintaining all support services within their territorial jurisdiction, including parks, picnic areas, and concessions.
After authority was granted to the Parish by LA R.S.56:721-728, the Jury or Council passed several parish ordinances which specifically addressed the LPGF Commission.
Parish Ordinance Numbers 1382 in 1981 and 1386 in 1982 established and provided for the composition, appointment, powers, and duties of the LPGF Commission, and defined the LF Preserve. The ordinance further stated that: a) the LPGF Commission would manage and govern the LF Preserve, which included that land along Lake Fields below the mean high water mark; b) the LPGF Commission would include seven citizens and taxpayers of Lafourche Parish, who would serve without compensation or reimbursement of expenses.
In 2002, the Council adopted Parish Ordinance Number 3141 which amended Ordinance Number 1386 and made the following changes:
In 2010, Act 384 of the Louisiana Legislature was passed and LA56:722.1(B) enacted which gave the LPGF Commission the authority to manage Lake Long.