A STRONG FOUNDATION
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation Helps Private Citizens, Corporations Take Part in Aiding LDWF
story by Trey Iles, LDWF Public Information
Kell McInnis didn’t get to ease into his role as executive director of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation. With much of south Louisiana still crippled in May of 2006 by the effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, there was a lot to do when McInnis came aboard.
St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes were devastated by Katrina’s strike in August of 2005, wiping out commerce and infrastructure. Less than a month later, Cameron Parish was equally ravaged by Rita.
Fishermen in those areas were, of course, severely impacted. McInnis was contacted by Ewell Smith, Executive Director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board (LSPMB), asking for help for that constituency in early June of 2006.
“There was so much devastation,’’ said McInnis, who also served as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from 1989-92. “And one important thing was missing in all three parishes, an ice house. Considering how important commercial and recreational fishing are to those two areas, it was a need that had to be filled immediately.’’
So McInnis and the Foundation went to work with one of its partners, Shell International Exploration and Production, to fill the void left by the monster storms. With the assistance of the LSPMB, he made contact with a manufacturer in North Carolina who built ice houses.
“Shell said they would pay for three ice houses,’’ McInnis said. “The manufacturer built and shipped ice houses that all you had to do was have a pad to put them on and have water and electricity. All we had to do was plug them in and start making ice. We were able to do that in less than two months.’’
With Shell providing the money, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation was able to set the process in motion. McInnis said LDWF’s Mark Schexnayder, now Director of LDWF’s Fisheries Habitat Division, was instrumental in working with the local governments on where best to locate the ice houses.
“St. Bernard and Plaquemines told us one ice house in the two parishes wouldn’t do them much good,’’ McInnis said. “So, after negotiations, we put two in one location, in St. Bernard.’’
McInnis said the story is an excellent example of how effective the Foundation can be. Working with partners like Shell and the LSPMB, a critical need was met.
“That was a really good use of partnerships,’’ McInnis said. “It helped recreational and commercial fishermen, shrimpers, the whole deal. They couldn’t load their boats with ice to go out. Then when they got in, there was no ice to ice down the product. We were real pleased to be involved with that.’’
It is only one example of what the Foundation, a non-profit, public charitable organization, has accomplished since its birth in 1995. It was created as a vehicle to allow citizens and corporations to contribute to the work of LDWF. Because LDWF cannot accept donations, the Foundation serves as a liaison between the private sector and the department to assist with various projects and programs. Simply put, the Foundation supports LDWF with additional resources for specific programs and projects.
“When it was founded in 1995, the people who came up with the idea developed the structure similar to the (LSU) Tiger Athletic Foundation,’’ McInnis said. “They wanted it to have the flexibility to do a number of things but still have good tax benefits for the people who contributed.’’
The Foundation’s stated mission includes:
- Promote, develop, expand and improve the facilities of LDWF and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC);
- Enhance their ability to perform their constitutional and statutory missions;
- Encourage public conservation and enjoyment of wildlife and fish resources;
- Increase LDWF and LWFC’s usefulness to the citizens of Louisiana.
The Foundation receives no funding from the state or LDWF and depends entirely upon contributions from individuals and corporate donors.
The Foundation’s work has benefitted many front-porch projects taken on by LDWF, including the Whooping Crane Project, Louisiana Wetland Protection, the Bald Eagle Project, Archery in Louisiana Schools, Becoming an Outdoor Woman, WETSHOP and National Hunting & Fishing Day in Louisiana.
Small or large, the Foundation has for nearly 22 years aided in facilitating many projects and programs that have greatly benefitted the wildlife and fish resources in Louisiana. And many times, the Foundation gets involved because of disasters.
“I’ve been told we live from crisis to crisis,’’ McInnis said. “We’ve been able to leverage money that has been used to repair damaged levees or lands and buy land to add to the public domain.’’
One example was at the Pointe-aux-Chenes Wildlife Management Area. The Foundation partnered with others to use grants and partnerships to repair breached levees, put in three water control structures and build what is now considered a premiere waterfowl impoundment. Another is the recently completed Wham Brake complex which is part of the Russell Sage WMA near Monroe and will provide increased waterfowl hunting opportunities in northeast Louisiana.
The Foundation was created with projects exactly like that in mind.
It was founded Dec. 14, 1995, with six men signing Articles of Incorporation, including John Campbell Jr., a Baton Rouge attorney, Glynn Carver, a Many businessman who was on the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission at the time, Marc Dupuy Jr., a Marksville attorney, Jim Hall, a Ruston banker, John Jackson III, a Metairie attorney, and Cliff Penick, a Slidell contractor.
Dupuy, Jackson and Penick still serve on the board of directors.
McInnis’ time as executive director is drawing to an end. He will retire at the end of 2017. The Foundation hired Sam C. Barbera III in June as assistant executive director. He’ll replace McInnis as executive director at the beginning of 2018.
“Through good times and bad, it has been a pleasure serving as the head of this organization,’’ McInnis said. “I’ve met and worked with so many wonderful people. I’m proud of the work we’ve done and Sam will continue leading the Foundation to even bigger and better things.
“The one thing I can say is that the people in Louisiana, whether private citizens or our corporate partners, they care so much about our fish and wildlife resources. It’s been great to work in that type of environment.’’
Sam C. Barbera to Lead LWFF
Sam C. Barbera III, a Thibodaux native who the spent the past three years working for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, will take over as executive director of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation at the beginning of 2018.
Barbera, 49, began his duties in June as assistant director and will succeed LWFF Executive Director Kell McInnis.
Though only working for LDWF since October of 2013, Barbera has navigated Louisiana waterways since he was a boy growing up in the state. Prior to coming to LDWF, he was co-host of BIGFISH Television in New Orleans. From 2001-2011 he worked for the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana, serving as STAR tournament director and assisting with fundraising events.
Barbera is a U.S. Army veteran. His last assignment was commander of the 239th Military Police Company in Baton Rouge, the first Louisiana Army National Guard unit called to active duty after 9/11.
At LDWF, Barbera assisted with a variety of fisheries research projects, including the Louisiana Cooperative Marine Fish Tagging Program and the Lake Pontchartrain Acoustic Telemetry Project. He also helped with the department’s artificial reef development/deployment activities and biological monitoring. In addition, he worked with fisheries extension, including numerous outreach events, fishing seminars and as the Louisiana Saltwater Series tournament director
“To be selected as assistant executive director for this organization is humbling,’’ said Barbera, a graduate of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. “For many years, I’ve seen firsthand the job LWFF has done and the various contributions it has made not only to LDWF but also to the citizens of the state who love and enjoy all Louisiana outdoors has to offer. The core mission of LWFF is to enhance and encourage public enjoyment and use of the wildlife and fisheries resources of Louisiana. I’ll work tirelessly to make sure we continue that mission.’’
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation is a non-profit, public charitable foundation, tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and so recognized by the IRS.
To make a contribution:
225-765-5100 or 225-765-2860.
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