Thank God for the U.S. National Wildlife Refuges, say I! They are as much a refuge to me as they are to the wildlife, I think. My life is so much richer for them. Hats off to the founders, the designers, the rangers and managers. God bless them and the wildlife and habitat that they protect.

Louisiana Black Bear near the Visitors’ Centre at Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge this Summer. C.Paxton image and copyright.

Click here for my journal account of a special day that Kimmie and I enjoyed at Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge recently (complete with images and a short video clip). It was a lovely day, full of interest and I thoroughly recommend a visit. Especially as they have now surfaced the previously rough part of the Quebec Road that leads to the Visitors’ Center.

Last Saturday I went along to The Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe Louisiana for their 2019 Fall Festival. It was a great family fun day and I was there with my colleagues from the Louisiana Master Naturalists Northeast manning a stall, selling fund-raising T-shirts and spreading awareness of our educational workshops and field trips that we are doing on a regular basis. Please see our LMNNE website for more information about our group: https://louisianamasternaturalistsnortheast.com/

Our orientation film played on the big screen and our stall had much more to offer this year than we had last year. Long and short sleeved T-shirts, an explanatory brochure and a brochure about the health benefits of woodland walking that also lists some of the great wild places in northeastern Louisiana where we can walk. To download the 2.6 MB version of the Healing Nature brochure as a PDF, please click below.

Also I couldn’t resist exploring some of the other stalls at the open day.

I had a brief walk-about and bought some great second-hand books, saw the wonderful wildlife photo contest entries for 2019 and some other fun stuff going on.

This time I spent a bit of time chatting with some folks on other tables. I was impressed to learn that Louisiana’s largest Solar energy farm is in West Monroe. It was established to supply energy to a water purification plant for the paper mill.

Stuart Hodnett, director of Ouachita Green told me some very encouraging news about their recent achievements. Amongst other things, such as a major clean-up sweep of the local rivers and bayous they collected over 102,000 lbs of hazardous household waste this year. On Nov. 15th they’ll be holding a household furniture collection at Monroe’s Civic Center from 9 am to 1 pm.

A new volunteer signs up to help clean-up Ouachita Parish with Ouachita Green at Director Stuart Hodnett's table. Click this link to view an interview with Stuart on Youtube. https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/5HmAEk54muw
A new volunteer signs up to help clean-up Ouachita Parish with Ouachita Green at Director Stuart Hodnett’s table. Click this link to view an interview with Stuart on Youtube.
https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/1lFep9WVhz8

This refuge is great for a number of reasons, it has a fantastic visitors’ center with displays and gift shop to fund conservation activities, a very nice boardwalk that allows dry and comfortable access to Bottomland hardwood forest and swamp and a good many other well-maintained trails, hides and an observation platform.

Here you can see forest wildlife, plants and fungi and also the swamp things! It’s great for Bald Eagles, American alligators, turtles, water fowl, woodland birds, a variety of snakes and lizards. frogs, butterflies, swamp rabbits and deer.

Some lucky souls have even encountered Alligator Snapping Turtles!