Millions for Southwest Louisiana

Included in spill money is $7M for LC-based science center

<p>Southwest Louisiana will receive $2,425,250 for improvements to cabins and restrooms at Sam Houston Jones State Park.</p>American Press File Photo

<p class="p1">Southwest Louisiana will receive more than $10 million in coastal recreational project funding from a settlement tied to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill — including $7 million for a Lake Charles-based science center.

<p class="p3">Gov. John Bel Edwards, who announced the spending plans Tuesday, said the state will spend $60 million in oil spill recovery money on new projects aimed at promoting boating, fishing and outdoor leisure.

<p class="p3">“The oil spill impacted Louisiana’s environment and natural resources, but it also took a toll on our way of life and the recreational opportunities that make Louisiana a true Sportsman’s Paradise,” Edwards said in announcing the projects. “Several beaches were closed, access to fishing areas and bays was limited, and recreational fishing was cut short as a result of the spill, not to mention camping and other outdoor activities that were put on hold as a result of the spill and the cleanup efforts.”

<p class="p3">Edwards said the settlement funding will pay for the engineering, design and construction of 23 projects on the state’s coastline.  

<p class="p3">Among those plans are the science center, which would include a visitor’s center, youth fishing pond, covered fishing pavilion and educational exhibits.

<p class="p3">State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries spokesman Ed Pratt told the <em>American Press</em> that a site hasn’t yet been selected for the center. 

<p class="p3">Southwest Louisiana will also receive $2,425,250 for improvements to cabins and restrooms at Sam Houston Jones State Park and $690,000 for the construction of new fishing piers and educational signs at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Cameron.  

<p class="p3">“We are delighted that Calcasieu Parish was included in this new allocation of funds for coastal recreational projects, and we are looking forward to the enhancements to Sam Houston Jones State Park,” said Kyle Edmiston, chief operating officer for the Southwest Louisiana Convention &amp; Visitors Bureau.

<p class="p3">“Outdoor recreation and ecotourism attract visitors from all around the world who are interested in experiencing the wildlife adventures to be had along our incredible landscapes, waterways and the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road.”

<p class="p3">Construction on some projects will begin this summer, while Edwards administration officials said others are still in the design phase.