The 2011 Bassmaster Classic, which begins today (Feb. 18) in New Orleans and continues through Sunday (Feb. 20), will showcase more than 50 of the world’s best bass anglers. It also will draw attention to important efforts to revitalize what the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) calls a “Vanishing Paradise.”
B.A.S.S. LLC, a Florida-based membership organization with more than 500,000 bass anglers, which conducts the annual world championship of bass fishing, is partnering with the Louisiana Wildlife Federation (LWF) and NWF in campaigns to promote the restoration and protection of Louisiana’s imperiled coastal wetlands and reconnect the Mississippi River to its delta.
"While the Louisiana Delta is rebounding from devastating hurricanes and a massive oil spill, a continuing and more destructive force threatens the long-term survival of the coastal wetlands," said Land Tawney, NWF’s senior manager for sportsmen leadership. "Levees and navigation projects along the Mississippi River have isolated Louisiana’s wetlands from the freshwater and sediment that once built them, while allowing saltwater to penetrate far inland, destroying once healthy coastal forests and freshwater swamps."
River diversion projects already in place have improved delta bass fishing dramatically since the Classic last visited New Orleans in 2003. LWF’s Sportsmen for the Coast campaign and NWF’s Vanishing Paradise effort are aimed at gaining federal approval of additional projects to restore the vast marshland.
“B.A.S.S. supports these efforts to protect and improve this great fishery that is so important to bass fishermen and other sportsmen,” said Jerry McKinnis, an owner of B.A.S.S. “Unless something is done to protect these coastal wetlands, the fantastic fishing we have now won’t be around for our children to enjoy.”
Yesterday (Feb. 17), McKinnis and other B.A.S.S. owners Don Logan and Jim Copeland added their names to a group sign-on letter authored by Vanishing Paradise, urging Congress to support funding for large-scale land building restoration projects in coastal Louisiana. The signing took place at the Bassmaster Classic Media Day, an event hosted by LWF and NWF, where representatives from each organization were present to answer questions and distribute information to angling enthusiasts attending the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo Feb. 18-20.
More information about both LWF’s and NWF’s efforts to involve anglers, hunters and all outdoors enthusiasts in the restoration of Louisiana’s coast can be found at www.vanishingparadise.org and www.lawildlifefed.org/coastal.