The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) of Louisiana is excited to announce that it will honor U.S. Representative Garret Graves with the 2016 Jerry Stone Conservationist of the Year.  The award, to be presented during the CCA Louisiana State Convention on February 26, is the highest conservation award given by the organization each year.

“Garret Graves has been a champion for conservation since being elected to Congress in 2014, and before that during his service in state government,” said CCA Louisiana CEO David Cresson.  “As an outdoorsman himself, Garret truly understands the importance of good stewardship and sound fisheries management, and these principals shine through in his work in Louisiana and on Capitol Hill.”

As a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Graves introduced the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority Act in 2015, legislation that would transfer management of Gulf red snapper away from the federal government to the five Gulf States.  His bill, which enjoys the bipartisan support of nearly 30 Members, would transfer red snapper management authority away from today’s ineffective federally run program to a more sustainable, data-driven management organization led by the five Gulf States. The move to state-based management would ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishery, yield more frequent stock assessments and improved regional collaboration in the collection and use of timely fishery data and would improve access to red snapper for recreational anglers across the Gulf South, while ensuring protection of access for the commercial fishing industry.

“It’s an honor to join the ranks of previous recipients of this award – outdoorsman and conservationists who have personally experienced the joy of Sportsman’s Paradise and who are working toward preserving it,” said Graves. “Louisiana is unlike any other place in the country  – worthy of the nickname, "America’s foreign country" – and I will remain focused on ensuring future generations have the opportunity to experience it for themselves.”

Prior to his election to Congress, Graves served under former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as the Chairman of the State’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA).  Under his leadership, the CPRA introduced the landmark Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, a comprehensive plan to protect and restore Louisiana’s coast, which earned unanimous approval by the State Legislature. As a result of this plan, Louisiana constructed more flood protection infrastructure and restored more miles of coastline under Graves’ tenure than at any other period of time in the State’s history.

Congressman Graves also served as Louisiana’s lead trustee for negotiations between the state and British Petroleum (BP), the Natural Resources Damage Assessment Council and the RESTORE Council after the catastrophic BP oil spill of 2011. His efforts contributed to the largest United States environmental settlement in American history in the summer of 2015, with more than $5 billion going toward Clean Water Act civil penalties and over $8 billion for Natural Resource Damage. This influx of money will further support implementation of Louisiana’s Master Plan.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Graves continued, “from preserving our cultural heritage through wetlands restoration and protection efforts to ensuring we are sustainably managing the treasured public resource of coastal fisheries so our kids and grandkids can experience the joy angling. I’m excited continue our progress.” 

The award is given annually in honor of the late Dr. Jerry Stone, a legendary conservationist and original member of CCA Louisiana.  Recent recipients of the award include Assistant Secretary of the Louisiana Department Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Randy Pausina, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, Louisiana Senator Gerald Long, U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, LDWF Secretary Robert Barham, U.S. Senator David Vitter, and Governor Bobby Jindal.