Wildlife

Mission Statement for the WMA Forest Management Program

 To conserve, manage and enhance the Department’s forest land ecosystem so recreational, educational, research, and economic opportunities will be provided for the citizens of this state.
 
                                                                           GOALS
1. To conserve, manage and enhance the native flora and fauna on the forested lands of the Department’s WMA system.
2. To re-establish appropriate forest habitat and associated plant communities on the cleared agricultural lands contained in recently acquired WMAs.
3. To provide forest habitats with associated natural plant and animal communities for recreational use by the citizens of this state.
4. To integrate the Department’s forest habitat management strategies on WMAs with the socio-economic considerations of local communities through the sale of forest products.

5. To incorporate research and educational opportunities into the Department’s WMA forest management program.

Major aspects of the Forest Management Program

 

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA  FORESTRY

Many tools are used in the management or manipulation of the forest ecosystem in order to create and maintain desirable wildlife habitats. The basic means in which to have wildlife habitat is by managing the vegetation of the landscape. There are different ways to make a desirable plant community grow on the areas designated primarily for wildlife. Some methods include, planting trees in an old field that has become fallow, thinning a timber stand by removing trees with little or no wildlife value, or clearcutting a stand to completely create a new habitat. Of course before the ground work starts there needs to be a well thought out plan. Through sampling and evaluation of the existing forest managers can learn what is beneficial and what is lacking.

INVENTORY
A detailed forest inventory is carried out to evaluate current habitat conditions for each WMA that the LDWF owns. The information gathered gives managers a closer look at many habitat components which allow them to make sound management decisions. The Forestry Section inventories approximately 50,000-70,000 acres, consisting of one to several entire WMAs, each year to assess habitat conditions on WMAs throughout the state. A forest inventory is a systematic sampling of the forest resources present within a landholding. Unlike a basic forest inventory, used primarily to appraise timber value, our forest inventories include data on both forest and wildlife habitat components. This additional data allow LDWF Wildlife Division personnel to make long-term management decisions as well as providing a better picture of the current wildlife and forest habitat conditions. During the inventory process tree measurements are recorded which include species, diameter, and height. With this information managers can calculate timber volume, diameter distribution, and species composition. Trees are also classed based on their crown position and overall condition. Additionally, the amount of sunlight penetrating the overstory, midstory and understory vegetation is recorded as well as the hydrologic-forest type. The understory and ground vegetation is sampled to determine the density and species composition of seedlings and saplings found on the area. Vine abundance, snag density, and other factors which have species specific value are also acquired.

Due to the extensive land base the Department owns not all of the acreage can be monitored and managed annually in great detail. Therefore, an entry schedule has been developed based on the complete inventory of each WMA. To ensure that no area is overlooked, WMAs are divided into management units called compartments. These units range in size from 500-2000 acres and are delineated using natural and man-made boundaries such as roads and waterways. All WMA compartments are scheduled for review on an entry schedule of 10-20 years depending on the number of compartments on a given WMA and the vegetative growth rate for that particular WMA. For most WMAs, at least one compartment is entered and evaluated each year. The order in which compartments are entered for management is based on the current forest and wildlife habitat conditions found during the forest inventory process. LDWF Forestry Section assesses approximately 15,000-20,000 acres annually and develops compartment prescriptions which detail the forest management practices that will be used to enhance wildlife habitat. Approximately 6,000-8,000 acres are managed through timber harvest annually to enhance wildlife habitat for both long and short-term benefit.

REFORESTATION
The restoration of bottomland hardwood sites is the primary function of the reforestation program. Since 1968 the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has reforested over 20,000 acres of old-fields purchased thru the Department's land acquisition program. These areas are generally adjacent to existing Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) and add to the land base available for public use.

The bulk of the acreage was planted during the last decade. Between 200,000 and 700,000 seedlings (500-2,000 acres) have been planted annually since the early 1990's.

Reforestation is an integral part of habitat restoration which involves watershed management, as well as, re-establishing the natural plant community. Careful attention is given to selecting tree and shrub species which would normally be found on the given site being planted. The flooding regime and soil characteristics are the primary factors which determine which type of trees will be planted.

LDWF is one of several agencies involved in a massive effort to reforest and restore tens of thousands of acres of bottomland hardwood sites in several states throughout the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Public and private lands are being "put back into trees" with a variety of funding sources including federal cost-share programs, and donations from both private industry and non-profit conservation organizations. LDWF only plants trees on its WMAs and uses all aforementioned funding sources as well as self-generated dollars and personnel time.

Due to the large demand for seedlings, long-term planning is necessary to secure enough seedlings to complete annual planting jobs. This is accomplished by keeping a sufficient supply of seed in cold storage to grow the number of seedlings projected to be used over the next two planting seasons.

As many as 10 WMAs may receive some degree of reforestation each year. Though individual fields are planted with 4 to 12 species of trees and shrubs, as many as 30 species are used annually to restore the variety of sites found in the state-wide WMA system.

(Associated Terms and Information Relevant to Reforestation)
Seed production age: on good sites, planted trees can begin seed production at a relatively young age. The following observations have been made on various WMAs. Acorns were produced on water oak and Nuttall oak at age 12; white oak, overcup oak, willow oak, obtusa oak and burr oak at age 14; sweet pecans produced fruit after 15 years; black cherry, crabapple and mayhaw produced fruit at 5 years post planting.

Planting density: spacing is dictated by the harshness of the site; where above average mortality is anticipated seedlings are planted 10x10 (435 per ac). If excellent survival is expected only 12'x12' spacing (300 per ac) is used. For enrichment planting (adding a new species to an area with nearly sufficient stocking already) only 200 trees are planted per acre.

Growth rate: the oldest plantation (planted from 1968-1972) is also on one of the best sites. In 1998 cherrybark oak, water oak, and willow oak were 12-20 inches in diameter with some individuals reaching 26 inches. These trees are over 100 feet tall and have been producing acorns for over 15 years.

The following Wildlife Management Areas have had some degree of tree planting conducted over the past 10 to 15 years:
Atchafalaya Delta, Attakapas Island, Bayou Macon, Bayou Pierre, Big Colewa Bayou, Boeuf, Buckhorn, Elbow Slough, Grassy Lake, Hutchinson Creek, Loggy Bayou, Marsh Bayou, Ouachita, Point Au Chein, Pomme de Terre, Red River, Russell Sage, Sandy Hollow, Sherburne, Spring Bayou, Three Rivers, Union, Waddill Refuge, Walnut Hill.

TIMBER HARVESTING
The information gained from the forest inventory allows the forester to make the best decision on how a stand can be managed to benefit wildlife and meet the desired objectives. Cutting and removing trees from a forest is one of the major forest management tools used by foresters and wildlife biologists. A commercial timber harvest is a feasible way to manage for wildlife where there would not be other incentives. This manipulation of the forest makes it possible for desirable wildlife habitat to be created. The primary objective of timber harvests conducted by the LDWF is to create favorable wildlife habitat; a second benefit comes from the revenue generated from the sale of the timber. The money earned from timber sales goes back into wildlife management. Depending on the management objectives and the forest condition of a compartment unit, the wildlife forester will decide if a timber harvest will be needed to create, improve, or maintain desired wildlife habitat.

Depending on the management needs of the compartment LDWF foresters will use one, or a combination of harvesting methods. The main harvesting methods include: single tree select thinning, group select thinning, seed-tree, shelterwood and clearcut. Much of what is removed includes dying, unhealthy or diseased trees that have minimal longterm wildlife or timber value.

Timber sales are awarded to the highest bidder among a list of individual timber companies and logging contractors. The timber company enters into a contract with LDWF detailing how the logging operation will be conducted. LDWF personnel monitor the logging operation and will shut down the logging if any violations are made.

PRESCRIPTION DEVELOPMENT
The prescription is our compartment management document. As with a doctor's prescription for medication when you have an ailment, the compartment Rx details what the technical staff recommends as appropriate to address maintaining or enhancing habitat components within the compartment. The prescription contains information on the present condition of the forested habitat, soils within the compartment, any unique or natural areas within the compartment, and particular concerns that have been addressed relative to that particular compartment or WMA. The Rx addresses the forested habitat for the short and long term, with prescribed practices drawn out for the current entry period, and any necessary references for future entries so noted.

RESEARCH
Research is an important part of our habitat management program on the WMAs. Just as continuing education is important to maintaining employees’ skills and knowledge of new technology in any job, research provides managers insight into new management practices or techniques that can be applied on the job, thus insuring optimal benefits of the WMA forest/wildlife resources.

Research projects are not only geared at learning about the growth characteristics and management techniques used on the WMA forests, but also at the interrelationships of the forests with certain wildlife species of concern, including white-tailed deer, squirrels, Wild Turkey, migratory birds and even insects and small mammals. We work jointly with the State Universities, Federal and State Government agencies, and private corporations to attempt to unravel some of the questions we have regarding the best methods to sustain suitable wildlife habitat components in our forested systems for the long-term, while providing short and long-term recreational benefits to the WMA users.
 

Forestry Program

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has acquired approximately 462,000 acres of land since 1959. The extensive clearing of forestlands, especially bottomlands, for agricultural production was a key factor that promoted the Department to purchase these lands, thereby insuring the continued existence of these valuable ecosystems.

Forest management on these timbered tracts prior to purchase by the Department was non-existent, as evidence indicates the timber on most lands was severely high-graded. Each time timber was cut, only the best trees were removed resulting in many stands of poor quality and cull trees. Additionally, a change in the natural hydrology, due to the demand of urbanization and agriculture, has affected the historic productive capacity of the ecosystem to accommodate wildlife populations on the remnant isolated tracts of bottomland hardwoods. The Department now has the task of recuperating these lands to improve wildlife habitat, maintain habitat diversity within the WMA, provide recreational opportunity for our various user groups, and at the same time grow quality timber.

OBJECTIVES

The objectives of the forest management program on these areas are to design and implement a plan to enhance wildlife production while maintaining the native flora and fauna characteristic of the areas; to provide quality wildlife oriented recreational opportunities for the public; to develop timber stands consisting of a wide variety of species, mast-producing bottomland hardwoods of all ages, habitat diversity, and areas comparable to earlier forests in structure, composition, and diversity. Aesthetic qualities of the areas will be considered in forest management prescriptions. Educational and research opportunities will be promoted to further a better understanding of the ecological/environmental factors associated with the diverse habitats represented. Additionally, production of timber products will be maintained, consistent with other objectives, as it plays an important role in the environmental and sociological atmosphere of the areas.

PLAN

Plan development requires an initial data base relative to the objectives of the plan. Working knowledge of the various areas indicates the presence of at least sixteen (16) timber types as recognized by the Society of American Foresters publication “Forest Cover Types of the United States and Canada”. However, certain forest variables that are associated with wildlife habitat quality are usually not accounted for in a normal forest inventory. Forestry Program staff have classified 58 different forest cover types that we recognize on our WMAs.

Since the approval and adoption of the WMA General Forest Management Plan by the LWF Commission in 1995, forest inventory data has been accumulated and utilized on the WMAs to prescribe habitat improvement plans (prescriptions). These forest inventories have been standard systematic plot cruises, based on a 5% sample of the management compartment being inventoried. These inventories provide sufficient data to determine forest management needs for sustaining forest product production. However, as we have learned over the past years of managing these resources for sustaining wildlife populations, sampling of additional wildlife habitat forest variables is necessary to better analyze the overall forest/habitat conditions. This Plan Revision will alter the methodology of forest inventory on the WMAs as well as the schedule of forest inventory.

The new inventory method will involve obtaining a complete inventory of one or several WMAs each year, based upon a goal of 50-60,000 acres inventoried each year. However, the sampling method will be less intense than the standard 5% systematic cruise, and will involve collecting data on more specific “secondary forest variables”, directly related to discerning wildlife habitat quality of the existing forest structure. Standard forest product measurements will still be obtained as well to allow managers to evaluate the sustainability and growth of our forests.

With some exception, each Department-owned WMA has had growth monitoring plots established to determine baseline information concerning general forest composition of the area, affects of past, present, and future management practices on vegetational diversity, and quality of wildlife habitat variables. These are permanent plots from which data is being collected at 10-year intervals. Continued acquisition of this data is important to understanding the development of these forest resources and the temporal benefits from associated management and non-management activities.

Each WMA has been subdivided into compartments based on an entry schedule ranging from 10-20 years. A new entry schedule will be developed for each WMA as it is inventoried in the new method. The entry schedule will be based on analysis of the WMA inventory data and knowledge/experience of the Wildlife Forester, Wildlife Division Program Managers and other Wildlife Division Regional personnel. A prescription (compartment plan) will be prepared for each compartment upon its scheduled entry that depicts the management activities (if any) necessary to achieve compliance with the plan objective(s). Desired Forest Conditions developed by the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture’s Forest Resource Conservation Working Group (2007) will be used to guide forest management decisions. Timber market conditions may cause a delay in implementation of annual plans.

Maps of each WMA will show management units or compartments, locations of natural areas, scenic streams, unique areas, greentree reservoirs, and any areas known to be occupied by endangered species.

Establishment of Natural Areas (NAs) on the WMAs was approved, as presented, by the LWF Commission on 3 January 2002. NAs will provide that niche of habitat which is currently regarded/addressed with many uncertainties relative to the effects of man’s manipulations in “managed” habitats. The NAs will also serve as control areas, allowing appropriate monitoring of management activities to be compared against the unmanaged habitats represented in the NAs. Unique areas will be preserved in their natural state. A Streamside Management Zone (SMZ) will be maintained along streams and lake perimeters. Timber removal in these buffers will be limited to 25% of total volume, but in no instance should the remaining basal area be less than a minimum of 60 sq. ft. Streams in the Scenic Rivers System will be managed in compliance with the Scenic River’s Act. Best Management Practices for forest management in Louisiana will be followed.

Prescribed burning will be practiced to improve and promote habitat quality. All burning practices should follow a burn plan developed by the Region Biologist or Wildlife Division Forester. All firelanes shall be established in a manner to prevent soil erosion problems (water bars and turn outs placed appropriately). Dormant and growing season burning will be practiced as site requirements dictate.

Roads will be managed to provide habitat diversity as well as reasonable access to the WMAs. All roads except primary thoroughfares will be managed and treated as openings, resulting in less maintenance cost and better wildlife habitat conditions. Additionally, when a timber harvest prescription requires volume removal of over 75% in a stand adjacent to a primary thoroughfare, an appropriate buffer will be maintained following the harvest limitations for streamside buffers. However, if long-term habitat benefits are deemed greater than the short-term aesthetic disruption, the buffer may not be maintained.

Greentree reservoirs or any specific areas which can be managed for waterfowl will be managed accordingly with emphasis on increasing waterfowl food supplies. This will entail maintenance of quality cavity trees, thinning of non-preferred (by waterfowl) mast trees in order to increase desirable mast species along with other duck foods such as smartweed, millets, sedges and panicums, while maintaining leaf litter and herbaceous accumulations for invertebrate populations. The artificial flooding regime will be adjusted periodically to maintain vigor in the mast producing overstory, and/or promote regeneration of the stand. All artificial flooding periods should reflect the historical overflow occurrence as much as possible to avoid negative effects on tree growth and mast production.

Management plans will be coordinated with the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program to provide suitable habitat maintenance for endangered, threatened or state rare species occurring on the area.

In gathering data and developing plans, the Wildlife Division Forester will keep the Regional Biologist Manager, Regional Biologists, Area Supervisor, and Louisiana Natural Heritage Program Coordinator informed as to the progress of the plan. Upon plan completion, the Wildlife Division Forestry Program Manager will submit the prescriptions for posting on the Department website for in-house and outside public review. The period of review will be 45 days from initial posting. Comments received will be reviewed by the Program Manager and prescriptions adjusted as appropriate, after review with the Assistant Administrator and Administrator of the Wildlife Division.

METHODS

Commercial timber harvest is the most economical and only practical method of manipulating the vast acreages of forest habitat under Department ownership. However, some habitat work will be accomplished by Department personnel in commercially inoperative or prohibitive areas.

Combinations of single-tree, group selection and clearcut harvest systems will be used to address maintenance and development of desired forest conditions considered necessary for sustaining general wildlife populations. A combination of selective thinning and clearcutting will maintain the species diversity of each area by not allowing domination of a single tree species or association of species that create conditions unfavorable to normal plant succession and species diversity.

Shelterwood and clearcutting systems will be used as necessary in managing stands of limited species composition, with minimum desirable regeneration stocking, or as required to improve habitat conditions of specific wildlife. Shelterwood cutting will promote establishment of oak regeneration and allow it to develop (when given a suitable length of time between cuttings, dependent on site quality) to a competitive size that is proper for final release and ensure representation in future stand. Clearcutting will be used after establishment of advanced reproduction of hard mast producers has been ascertained. Without sufficient advance oak reproduction, this harvest practice may not foster the component of oak regeneration desired.

Group selection involves the removal of several trees in a group which leaves a larger canopy opening than single-tree selection but not as much canopy opening as a clearcut method. Potential cavity trees will be retained within cluster formations as necessary to provide and protect the den/nest sites and escape cover.

Productive forest management as described above will increase vertical and horizontal diversity, browse and mast (hard and soft) production. The increase of these important food supplies will benefit deer, squirrel, rabbit, raccoon, wild turkey, waterfowl and many species of non-game wildlife, including Neotropical migratory birds. The increased ground cover resulting from timber cuttings will benefit rabbits and deer, and provide improved nesting and brooding habitat for the Wild turkey. In addition to enhancing the establishment and growth of desirable mast producing trees, the described forest management will greatly improve the tree quality from a timber standpoint. Retention of dead wood components (standing snags, tree top, unmerchantable logs, etc.) will be promoted to provide that habitat component where it is lacking.

TIMBER SALES

Before a timber sale is made, total volume will be determined for pulpwood and sawlogs. Reproduction counts, when necessary, will also be conducted and included in pre-harvest planning. Timber marking operations, following prescription recommendations prepared by the Wildlife Division Forester, will be carried out by the Wildlife Division Forester with assistance from Region personnel.

After all timber to be sold has been tabulated, the Wildlife Division Forestry Program Manager will prepare a timber sale proposal. The Wildlife Division Forester will discuss all aspects of the proposed timber sale with Regional Biologist Managers. The proposal will then be submitted, along with a list of potential bidders, to the Wildlife Division Assistant Administrator and Administrator for approval and advertisement for bids. The Region Biologist Manager and WMA Supervisor will be furnished a copy of the timber sale proposal.

If acceptable bids are received and a contract awarded, the Wildlife Division Forestry Program Manager will contact the buyer to discuss aspects of the contract and request payment. The Wildlife Division Forester or his designee will visit the site periodically during timber harvest operations but, WMA personnel will be responsible for daily monitoring of the timber harvest operations.

The contractor will be instructed to contact the Wildlife Division Forester concerning problems which may arise during the contract period. If for some reason the cutting has to be terminated, the Wildlife Division Forester, or appropriate Region personnel will contact the buyer or his agent.

Requests for contract extensions and performance deposit returns must first be approved by the Wildlife Division Forester with a written request made to the Wildlife Division Forestry Program Manager for final approval.

REVENUE UTILIZATION

Although revenue generation is not the principal goal of the timber management on these department lands, it certainly is a secondary goal. The Wildlife Division Forester can not manage the timber stands for wildlife without making the timber sales, wherein the purchaser and his logging contractor are the tool to achieve the habitat manipulation. If the prescribed treatment is not economically feasible, it will not sell. Additionally, In-kind Services may be a part of the bid proposal as needed. It is important to put some proceeds back into improving the timber stands and the management ability of those stands. These In-kind Service projects may include, but are not limited to; improving roads, bridges, culverts, soil stabilization, site preparation, chemical and mechanical treatments, tree plantings and other forest management related activities.

The revenues derived as a result of the sale of the timber shall be used in the following manner: They may be deposited in the Wildlife Habitat and Natural Heritage Trust Fund for the purpose of purchasing additional timber / recreational lands and stewardship of those lands; they may be deposited in the Conservation Fund and earmarked as Federal Aid Program Income, to be used on Federal Aid projects administered by the Wildlife Division.

INSECTS, DISEASES AND NATURAL DISASTERS

Division personnel should immediately alert the Wildlife Division Forester of any suspected insect or disease problem associated with the WMA forest resources. The Wildlife Division Forester will contact appropriate USDA Forest Insect and Disease Specialists to help investigate the occurrence.

Timber damage due to forest insect infestation or natural disaster (tornado, ice storm, etc.) should be reported to the Wildlife Division Forester for immediate action. The Wildlife Division Forester will, based upon inspection of the site, determine appropriate action to take regarding salvage of the damaged timber.

CONTINUING EDUCATION

All Division personnel assigned to Department-owned WMAs will be involved with a combination in-house and extension oriented continuing education program covering all associated aspects of forest management relative to our WMA program. The Wildlife Division Forester will pursue available courses and development of specific courses to address concerns addressed by Division personnel.

RESEARCH

Many habitat situations exist on Department owned lands, providing enormous opportunity for research to add to the scientific knowledge required for proper management of the diverse habitats represented. The Department will readily accept for review and possible establishment any research proposals for projects on WMAs. Forestry Section and Region personnel will participate in all research activities as a means of continuing education.

Periodic reviews (every 10-15 years) of WMA entry schedules will allow an update of plans to utilize new research findings relative to the proper management of Department lands and continued adherence to meeting the general WMA plan objectives.

Peason Ridge WMA

Acreage

74,309

Contact

wsmith@wlf.la.gov; 337-491-2575; 1213 North Lakeshore Dr, Lake Charles, LA 70601

Parish

Sabine, Natchitoches, Vernon

Owner/manager

U.S. Army

Description

The terrain on Peason Ridge WMA consists of gentle to high rolling hills interspersed with creeks. Longleaf pine is dominant on some of the hills while a mixture of loblolly and longleaf pine and red, blackjack, and post oak is found on other ridges. Some portions of the area support mixed pine stands of longleaf, loblolly, and shortleaf. Groves of sandjack oak are also present. Large areas with little or no timber are common. The understory of these upland areas is very sparse and contains wax myrtle, yaupon, sweetgum, dogwood, huckleberry, sumac, and seedlings of the overstory. The overstory on the creek bottoms includes water oak, beech, magnolia, sweetgum, red maple, and ash. Understory species include dogwood, buttonbush, French mulberry, wild azalea, hazel alder, hawthorn, red and white bay, black gum, viburnum, and seedlings of the overstory.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting and trapping: Available game species include deer, squirrel, rabbit, quail, woodcock, dove, and turkey. There is also a youth turkey lottery hunt. Trapping is allowed for raccoon, fox, bobcat, skunk, opossum, mink, and coyote. All hunters and trappers must obtain an annual permit from the U.S. Army. See regulations for details.

Camping: Camping is not permitted on Peason Ridge WMA but is allowed on adjacent U.S. Forest Service lands.

Directions

Peason Ridge WMA is located 14 miles north of Leesville. You must have a self-clearing permit to access the WMA. Click here for more details.

Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA

Acreage

33,488

Contact

sgranier@wlf.la.gov; 504-284-5264

Parish

Terrebonne, Lafourche

Owner/manager

LDWF

Description

Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA is mostly marsh, varying from intermediate to brackish and interspersed with numerous ponds, bayous, and canals. The only timber stands are located on the Point Farm Unit of the area and on areas adjacent to natural bayous and older oil and gas canals.

LDWF manages the property through water control, mainly using variable crested weirs and levees, to increase productivity of the marshes for furbearers, waterfowl, alligators, and fish.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting and trapping: Available game species include waterfowl, deer, rabbit, squirrel, rails, gallinules, and snipe. There is also an annual youth deer lottery hunt on the WMA. See regulations for details.

Fishing and boating: Recreational fishing on Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA is excellent for inland saltwater fish species, crabs, and shrimp. Freshwater fish are available in the more northern portions of the WMA. See regulations for details.

Camping: There is a tent-only campground along Hwy 665, north of the headquarters area.

Directions

Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA is located about 15 miles southeast of Houma. Access to the interior is typically limited to boats due to the lack of roads. There are boat launches into the interior on Island Rd and Hwy 665, south of the headquarters area.

Pearl River WMA

Acreage

35,619

Contact

fburks@wlf.la.gov; 985-543-4781; 42371 Phyllis Ann Dr, Hammond, LA 70403

Parish

St. Tammany

Owner/manager

LDWF

Description

Pearl River WMA has flat terrain with poor drainage and is subject to annual flooding. The forest cover varies from an all age hardwood stand in the northern 45 percent, to cypress tupelo in the middle 35 percent, and intermediate marsh in the southern 20 percent. The mixed hardwoods are made up of water, nuttall, cow, obtusa, overcup, and live oak; bitter pecan; hickory; beech; magnolia; sweetgum; and elm. The overstory varies from moderately open to closed.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting and trapping: Available game species include white-tailed deer, squirrel, rabbit, waterfowl, snipe, and woodcock. There are youth deer and squirrel seasons as well as youth and general turkey lottery hunts. Trapping is available for furbearers, including beaver, nutria, mink, muskrat, opossum, raccoon, coyote, and bobcat. See regulations for details.

Shooting range: There is a shooting range on Pearl River WMA that is available for public use at specified times. Click here or call 985-643-3938 for details.

Fishing and boating: There are numerous streams and bayous on Pearl River WMA available for fishing, crawfishing, canoeing, and boating. There are also several ponds on the northern end of the WMA along I-59. See regulations for details.

Camping: Camping is available at Crawford Landing.

Other: hiking, photography, birding

Directions

Pearl River WMA is located about 6 miles east of Slidell and about 1 mile east of the town of Pearl River. You can access the WMA by vehicle from Old Hwy 11 and by boat. There are several boat ramps along U.S. Hwy 90 and concrete ramps at Davis and Crawford Landings, all of which have ample parking. There is also a commercial ramp at Old Indian Village.

When the river gauge at the town of Pearl River reaches 16.5 feet, Old Hwy 11 and all hunting, except waterfowl, are closed. Click here to monitor water levels.

Pomme de Terre WMA

Acreage

6,434

Contact

jhaynes@wlf.la.gov; 337-948-0255; 5652 Hwy 182, Opelousas, LA 70570

Parish

Avoyelles

Owner/manager

LDWF

Description

Pomme de Terre WMA is a bottomland hardwood forest. The terrain is primarily low and flat, but several ridges transect the property, primarily running from east to west. These ridges border and intersect Sutton Lake, a rain dependent wetland that is popular for wintering waterfowl and waterfowl hunters.

The overstory consists mostly of hackberry, locust, elm, ash, maple, and sweetgum. Nuttall and overcup oaks are scattered throughout the WMA. Willow is dominant in the low lying areas, and bald cypress is found toward the ridges. Box elder and sycamore are also common. The understory consists of haws, deciduous holly, dogwood, elderberry, and seedlings of the overstory. Other understory plants include poison ivy, peppervine, greenbrier, and blackberry. Open water and marshy areas, which comprise about 60 percent of the total WMA, contain water hyacinth, duckweed, lotus, cutgrass, and buttonbush.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting and trapping: Popular game species on Pomme de Terre WMA include white-tailed deer, turkey, squirrel, waterfowl, and rabbit. There is a youth deer season and a youth turkey lottery hunt. Wintering waterfowl populations vary annually. Trapping for furbearers is allowed. See regulations for details.

Fishing and boating: There is a boat launch into Sutton Lake (see map). There is limited recreational fishing on Pomme de Terre WMA; commercial fishing is allowed by permit. See regulations for details.

Camping: There is one primitive camping area.

Other: hiking, photography, birding

Directions

Pomme de Terre WMA is located off LA Hwy 451, 6 miles east of Moreauville. Vehicles can access the WMA by a gravel road at the southwest corner of the property. Interior access by water is limited; however, there are about 8 miles of ATV trails that provide access to the majority of the WMA.

Pass-a-Loutre WMA

Acreage

115,000

Contact

sgranier@wlf.la.gov; 504-284-5264

Parish

Plaquemines

Owner/manager

LDWF

Description

Pass-a-Loutre WMA is characterized by river channels and their associated banks, natural bayous, and manmade canals which are interspersed with intermediate and freshwater marshes. Hurricane damage and subsidence have contributed to a major demise of vegetated marsh areas and the subsequent the formation of large ponds. LDWF is developing habitat on the WMA primarily by diverting sediment-laden waters into open bay systems (i.e., creating delta crevasses), which promotes delta growth.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting and trapping: Waterfowl and other migratory game bird hunting, rabbit hunting, and archery hunting for deer are permitted on Pass-a-Loutre WMA. There is also a youth deer season. See regulations for details.

Fishing and boating: Fishing is excellent in both fresh and saltwater areas. Common fish species in the interior marsh ponds include bass, bream, catfish, crappie, warmouth, drum, and garfish. Common saltwater species include redfish, speckled trout, flounder, and crabs. See regulations for details.

Camping: There are multiple tent-only campgrounds on this WMA.

Directions

Pass-a-Loutre WMA is located at the mouth of the Mississippi River, approximately 10 miles south of Venice. You can only access this WMA by boat. The nearest public launches are in Venice.

Ouachita WMA

Effective March 2015, Ouachita Wildlife Management Area acreage has been consolidated within the new boundaries of Russell Sage Wildlife Management Area and will continue to be managed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.  To view a site description and map of the combined WMAs acreage, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2777 .

Russell Sage WMA

Acreage

38,213

Contact

mmcgee@wlf.la.gov; 318-343-4044; 368 CenturyLink Dr, Monroe, LA 71203

Parish

Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland, Caldwell

Owner/manager

LDWF, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Ouachita Parish School Board

Description

Russell Sage WMA forms one of the largest remaining tracts of the vast bottomland hardwood forests that historically composed the lower Mississippi River floodplain from lower Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico. Russell Sage WMA was the very first LDWF-owned WMA. LDWF purchased 15,000 acres of the property in 1960; since then, LDWF has leased and purchased several adjacent tracts. LDWF also consolidated the former Ouachita WMA with Russell Sage WMA in March 2015. In total, LDWF owns 34,018 acres of the property, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns 2,955 acres, and the Ouachita Parish School Board owns 1,240 acres.

Located within the Bayou LaFourche floodplain, Russell Sage WMA is flat, poorly drained, and subject to annual winter and spring flooding. Elevations range from 55 to 63 feet above sea level. Numerous sloughs and shallow bayous meander throughout the property, and there is annual backwater flooding. Abandoned and active mineral exploration and production sites, roadways, pipelines, open water lakes, sloughs, and bayous provide diversity throughout the area.

LDWF has planted approximately 4,000 acres of hardwood seedlings to restore the old Ouachita WMA portion of the area to its condition before it was cleared for farming in the 1960s. The forest canopy contains a mixture of bottomland hardwoods grouped into two major timber types: oak-elm-ash and overcup oak-bitter pecan (water hickory). There are smaller areas of cypress-tupelo, gum, and black willow. Individual tree species include honey locust, cedar and winged elm, sweetgum, sugarberry, green ash, red maple, cottonwood, nutmeg and bitternut hickory, and nuttall, willow, and delta post oak. Common woody understory species include peppervine, deciduous holly, poison ivy, rattan, swamp privet, buttonbush, climbing dogbane, palmetto, greenbrier, dewberry, roughleaf dogwood, trumpet creeper, persimmon, box elder, grape, and hawthorn.

LDWF has developed 13 waterfowl management units totaling 7,770 acres on this WMA. This includes 500 acres of flooded agricultural fields, 4,500 acres of moist soil management units, 2,550 acres of greentree impoundments, and 220 acres of shallow water areas.

The 2,767-acre Kennedy Tract, purchased in 2015, is currently in the planning stages for future management activities; no public activity is allowed in this area at this time.

Activities and Amenities

Hunting and trapping: The most popular game species on Russell Sage WMA are white-tailed deer, waterfowl, squirrel, and rabbit. There is a small game emphasis area on this WMA. The areas managed for waterfowl, along with the numerous sloughs and waterways, offer excellent waterfowl hunting. There are youth deer and squirrel seasons and a youth waterfowl lottery hunt. Hunting is also available for dove, raccoon, snipe, and woodcock. There is a dove field, planted annually in brown-top millet, available to area users. See regulations for details.

In addition, there is a physically challenged wheelchair-confined hunting area, deer season, and waterfowl lottery hunt. Click here for a physically challenged hunter permit application and additional information.

Fishing and boating: Recreational fishing for freshwater species including largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, and catfish, crawfishing, and frogging are popular with area users. Commercial fishing is also available. See regulations for details.

Camping: There are two primitive camping areas on Russell Sage WMA.

Birding and wildlife viewing: Many neotropical birds and shorebirds visit Russell Sage WMA annually. The area is also home to large numbers of passerine and wading birds. The areas managed for waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds, along with the numerous sloughs and waterways, offer excellent birding. There is a wildlife viewing tower overlooking several waterfowl impoundments in the waterfowl refuge. Russell Sage WMA is also a great location for viewing terrestrial birds and raptors.

Louisiana black bear frequent this area; reported sightings have been increasing.

Hiking: Several walking trails follow pipeline rights-of-way.

Other: horseback riding, berry picking

Directions

Russell Sage WMA is located about 7 miles east of Monroe and 10 miles west of Rayville. You can access the WMA via U.S. Hwy 80 and 165, LA Hwy 15, and I-20. LDWF maintains a system of all-weather gravel roads and numerous ATV trails on the WMA. There are 12 self-clearing permit stations located at major entrances to the WMA.

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