Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Welcome to Lake Ophelia NWR


The application period for 2014-15 Lottery Primitive Firearm and Youth Deer hunts is now open through August 31. Please view our Refuge regulations brochure for more information.

> Click here to apply: <


Credit: USFWS

Credit: USFWS

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 . . .

Credit: USFWS

Credit: USFWS

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


The Conservation Fund's Go Zero Program Bottomland Hardwoods Restoration Initiative

Download the Project Design Document

The Grand Cote and Lake Opehlia Restoration Initiative presents a rare opportunity to restore native hardwood forests that will expand wildlife habitat, create new areas for public recreation and trap carbon dioxide.

On behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Conservation Fund will use donations from its Go Zero program to restore approximately 814 acres of marginal agricultural land within the boundaries of the Grand Cote and Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuges. The newly restored native bottomland hardwood forest will be managed by the Service to ensure its long-term protection and stewardship. All carbon accrued from this project shall be withheld from the carbon market and cannot be sold or banked for future offset purposes.

The project has been designed to:

  • decrease the effects of climate change via carbon sequestration;
  • restore Louisiana's bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem for the benefit of fish and wildlife resources; and
  • create long-term community benefits in the form of enhanced habitat for wildlfie and improved recreational lands under the management of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for activities such as hunting, fishing, wildlife photography, wildlife observation, environmental education and environmental interpretation.


Last updated: August 4, 2014