National Wildlife Refuge
|401 Island Road
Marksville, LA 71351
Phone Number: 318-253-4238
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|Black Bear Reintroduction on Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge|
Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge
Lake Ophelia NWR (named for the largest water body in the area) was established in 1988 to protect the important Mississippi/Red River floodplain ecosystem. The refuge was once part of a vast bottomland hardwood wilderness. Levees have changed hydrology, but the underlying ridge/Saale topography supports a variety of habitat types. Bottomland hardwood forest, croplands, fallow fields, moist soil units, and cypress-tupelo brakes are intermixed with meandering bayous, pristine lakes, ponds, sloughs, and the Red River. This variety of vegetative communities in turn supports a diversity of wildlife. Due to its location in east-central Louisiana, the refuge is served by the Mississippi and Central Flyways.
Although mallards, northern pintails, and wood ducks are the most numerous waterfowl species on the refuge, blue- and green-winged teal, northern shovelers, gadwall, and American Widgeon are also common. Primary diving ducks are scaup and ring-necked ducks. Canada, snow, and greater white-fronted geese are present, though less common. Several hundred native species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fishes, and insects are found on the refuge. Common, though often difficult to see, species include bobcats, alligators, red and grey foxes, turkeys, mink, and otter. More frequently encountered are white-tailed deer, raccoons, fox squirrels, beaver, marsh hawks, and wading birds. Many neotropical migratory songbirds use the refuge at various times. Refuge fisheries are composed largely of largemouth bass, gar, crappie, bowfin, bream species, buffalo, carp, and catfish.
Endangered species numbers are few and their presence is always marked with special interest. The arctic peregrine falcon is an occasional visitor, and thanks to the refuge's three-year bald eagle reintroduction project, bald eagle sightings are common.
Getting There . . .
The refuge office is at 401 Island Road just north of Marksville, LA. The office can be reached by taking LA. Hwy. 1194 south from LA. Hwy. 1, to Island Road. The refuge itself is 20 miles northeast of Marksville, LA on LA. Hwy. 452
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Four main objectives drive management actions on Lake Ophelia NWR: 1) provide and maintain optimum habitat for migratory waterfowl, consistent with the overall objectives of the Mississippi Flyway; 2) provide habitat and protection for threatened and endangered species, including the arctic peregrine falcon and bald eagle; 3) provide habitat for a natural diversity of plant and wildlife species; 4) provide opportunities for wildlife-oriented recreation and environmental education.
To accomplish these goals, two main management programs are employed: cooperative farming and forest management. Agricultural lands comprise nearly 3000 acres of refuge lands. Agricultural lands play an important role in providing habitat for migratory waterfowl. When soybean prices soared in the 1970's, much of the area that would become refuge was cleared for agriculture. As a result, much of the refuge's forest management program has consisted of reforestation. Currently, more than 5000 acres have been planted with a variety of tree species. About 700 acres are scheduled for planting in the near future.
Important, though less intensive management actions include maintenance of wood duck boxes, waterfowl banding, bald eagle hacking, moist soil management, and wildlife law enforcement.