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Black Bayou Lake
National Wildlife Refuge

480 Richland Place
Monroe, LA   
E-mail: northlouisianarefuges@fws.gov
Phone Number: 318-387-1114
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Black Bayou Lake NWR offers great fishing, hunting and wildlife observation opportunities.
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Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1997 through a unique partnership with the city of Monroe, Louisiana. The 2,000 acre scenic lake is owned by the city and serves as its secondary water source. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a free ninety-nine year management lease on the lake. The Service purchased 2,200 acres of land surrounding the lake, which expanded the refuge to 4,200 acres and protected most of the lake's watershed. The beautiful natural lake is studded with picturesque cypress and tupelo trees, and surrounded by swamps that graduate into bottomland hardwoods and then into upland mixed pine/hardwoods. The refuge supports an excellent fisheries resource and provides valuable habitat for migratory waterfowl, neotropical migratory songbirds, and many resident wildlife species.

This semi-urban refuge is ideally located to provide a place for people to connect with the natural world. It is one of four refuges managed in the North Louisiana Refuges Complex. The complex visitor center, a restored planter's house, is situated on the 40 acre Black Bayou Lake Environmental Education Center. Adjacent to the visitor center are an arboretum with over 100 native Louisiana woody plants and a prairie demonstration area with native grasses and wildflowers. Facilities also include interactive visitor center exhibits, a mile long raised asphalt/boardwalk nature trail with 400 foot wildlife pier, boat launch, amphitheater and pavilion, a raised observation deck with spotting scope and several informational kiosks. Members of Friends of Black Bayou, Inc., a refuge support group, provide thousands of hours of services for the refuge.

Getting There . . .
Black Bayou Lake NWR is located just north of Monroe, Louisiana off U.S. Hwy 165. Approximately 1.3 miles north of the CenturyTel corporate headquarters turn east on Richland Drive. Cross Bayou DeSiard and the railroad tracks. The visitor center is on the right side of the road. Follow refuge signs to other facilities. Brochure maps, available at the visitor center, will show other access points

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Wildlife and Habitat

Black Bayou Lake NWR consists of a beautiful 2,000-acre baldcypress/tupelo lake surrounded by mixed pine/hardwoods and reforested bottomland hardwoods.

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The refuge was established initially in 1997 by a free 99-year lease with the City of Monroe. Surrounding fee title lands were purchased soon after.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
Biology professors and students from the University of Louisiana at Monroe have partnered with Black Bayou Lake refuge in research projects on fishes, reptiles and amphibians. The alligator snapping turtle, a species that has declined drastically across most of the south, nests along the shores of the lake. Nest surveys are conducted annually. Reducing the raccoon population helps to prevent destruction of all the alligator snapping turtle nests and many of other turtles species. The refuge has a large nest box program for prothonotary warblers and wood ducks. Wood ducks are banded on the refuge each year.

Eight hundred acres of former agricultural fields have been reforested with eleven bottomland hardwood tree species. Existing forested wetlands are managed for forest health and wildlife habitat. The small upland area on the east side of the refuge is home to a remnant red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) cluster. Some hardwoods have been removed to create preferred habitat for this endangered species. Establishing the arboretum and prairie demonstration areas required repeated plantings and waterings. Annual mowing or burning maintains the prairie area. Some of the young arboretum trees must be protected from deer and rabbits with wire cages.

Control of exotic species (those not occurring naturally in this area) is a major activity on this refuge. Herbicide spraying helps to prevent water hyacinths from covering the lake. Controlling Chinese tallow trees is a matter of educating the public not to plant them as ornamental shade trees (birds disperse the seeds) and physically removing the trees, which are invading the reforested area of the refuge.