Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1997. Although the suburban sprawl of the city of Monroe surrounds much of its boundary, the refuge itself represents many habitat types and is home to a diversity of plants and animals. The Refuge was established for "...the conservation of the wetlands of the nation in order to maintain the public benefits they provide and to help fulfill international obligations contained in various migratory bird treaties and conventions..." 16 U.S.C. 3901 (b) (Wetlands Extension Act). The central physical feature of the Refuge is the lake itself Black Bayou Lake is approximately 1,500 acres of shallow water studded with baldcypress and water tupelo trees. The lake is owned by the City of Monroe, which manages its water level as a secondary drinking water source. The Fish and Wildlife Service has a 99 year lease on the lake itself and manages its wildlife and habitat.
While the Refuge was established to conserve wetlands and provide habitat for native species, its proximity to Monroe has provided the perfect opportunity for it to become the premier environmental education destination in Northeast Louisiana. Thousands of students attend field trips to the Refuge and staff take programs to local schools. An active Friends group and many local partners support this environmental education mission. The facilities and infrastructure cater to non-local visitors and residents alike and in normal years many different interpretive and educational programs are offered for a variety of ages.
Much of the Refuge is located on prior agricultural land that was planted back in trees upon acquisition by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Refuge itself was established in 1997 and acquisition of land has continued since then with the most recent addition occurring in the mid-2010s. The Visitor Center is housed in a late 1800s era plantation house that was relocated from down the road and set in its current location to serve as a hub for education and visitation. It was restored primarily by dedicated volunteers with the support of the local community and continues to be a showpiece and local attraction.
Other Facilities in this Complex
Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge is part of the North Louisiana Refuges Complex.