An acquisition from The Nature Conservancy will become a new outdoor recreation area in northeast Louisiana managed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).
The 247-acre tract on Bayou Bartholomew in Morehouse Parish will be named the Ben Lilly Conservation Area. The land is adjacent to the eastern boundary of Chemin-A-Haut State Park. Lilly was a legendary outdoorsman who guided President Theodore Roosevelt during a big game hunting expedition in Louisiana in 1907.
“This is another step in our effort to provide quality outdoor experiences in every corner of the state,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “We appreciate the cooperative efforts of The Nature Conservancy and their long-term commitment to protecting the natural resources of our state.”
When site improvements are complete, the conservation area will provide opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, birdwatching, hiking, nature photography, fishing and seasonal hunting. An access road and boat launch are planned for 2014.
The property was acquired from The Conservancy for $300,000 utilizing LDWF land acquisition funds. The Conservancy purchased the property in 2009 and in 2010 initiated a reforestation program on approximately 143 acres of the property that was formerly in pasture. As a reflection of their commitment to providing public access to natural areas around Louisiana, The Conservancy was willing to sell the property to LDWF for significantly less than the appraised value of $495,000.
”This project has been a great example of a successful public-private partnership,” said Keith Ouchley, Louisiana State Director for The Nature Conservancy. “Our efforts have resulted in the protection and restoration of a strategically important parcel of land, while also contributing to LDWF’s mission of providing high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities. The Conservancy was able to generate private sector funding to support the project and also received significant surface use concessions from New Century Resources, which holds the mineral lease, and for that we are especially thankful.”
The acreage contains a variety of habitats including mature bottomland hardwoods and approximately three miles of frontage along Bayou Bartholomew, which is a water body protected by the Louisiana Scenic Rivers Act. Bayou Bartholomew contains the highest fish and mussel diversity in the state and forested land along the bayou provides critical buffer for water quality.
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter@LDWF.
The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. For more information, visit us at www.nature.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/natureconservancylouisiana?ref=hl.