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National Wildlife Refuge

Dempsey Lake on the Bushley Bayou Unit of the Catahoula NWR.
210 Catahoula NWR Road
Jonesville, LA   71343
E-mail: catahoula@fws.gov
Phone Number: 318-992-5261
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Dempsey Lake on the Bushley Bayou Unit of the Catahoula NWR.
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Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge

Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge, located in east central Louisiana, 12 miles east of Jena, was established in 1958 as a wintering area for migratory waterfowl. The refuge contains 25,162 acres divided into two units.

The 6,671 acre Headquarters Unit borders nine miles of the northeast shore of Catahoula Lake, a 26,000 acre natural wetland renowned for its large concentrations of migratory waterfowl.

The 18,491 acre Bushley Bayou Unit, located 8 miles west of Jonesville, was established May 16, 2001. This acquisition was made possible through a partnership agreement between The Conservation Fund, American Electric Power, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. The habitat found at the refuge is primarily lowland hardwood forest subject to seasonal backwater flooding from the Ouachita, Black, and Red Rivers.

White-tailed deer, small game mammals, songbirds, raptors, waterbirds, reptiles, and amphibians are commonly seen throughout the refuge. Waterfowl are abundant during the winter. Peak waterfowl populations of 75,000 ducks have been recorded. In 1979, the Duck Lake Impoundment was created to provide 1200 acres of waterfowl habitat. Management of the impoundment is to manipulate water levels to promote the growth of aquatic and moist soil vegetation. In 2001, Catahoula NWR was designated a Globally Important Bird Area. Catahoula Lake is recognized as a Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR site): a historic concentration area for shorebirds, waterbirds, and migrating/wintering waterfowl. Catahoula NWR also borders a portion of the Dewey Wills Wildlife Management Area. Together, these areas provide a haven for wildlife and preserve representative samples of the unique habitats originally found in the Lower Mississippi River Ecosystem.

Getting There . . .
Catahoula NWR headquarters is located approximately 12 miles east of Jena, Louisiana. From the Intersection of LA 28 and US 84, turn west on US 84. Follow US 84 about 1.5 miles and turn west on Catahoula NWR Road. The headquarters is about .5 mile from US 84, located in the second building. Directional signs are found along the route.

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Management Activities
The refuge uses water management as the primary tool to enhance habitats for wildlife resources. Water levels on the 26,000 acre Catahoula Lake, located adjacent to Catahoula NWR, are managed by refuge personnel under a tri-party cooperative agreement with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Water manipulations are designed to emulate former natural conditions which provide waterfowl habitat and public hunting opportunities.

Summer drawdowns stimulate the growth of an abundance of moist soil plants and provides habitat for migrating shorebirds. Reflooding the area in the fall makes the moist soil plants available to waterfowl. Our refuge management programs center on similar water manipulations as with the 1200 acre Duck Lake impoundment which is managed to benefit waterfowl. A wood duck nesting box program supplements natural cavity brood production. Wood ducks are banded during the summer to provide data on hunting mortality.

Bird surveys are conducted throughout the year along with a Christmas Bird Count held in December to monitor population changes. Forest surveys are conducted to document forest resources and prescribe specific management practices. Reforestation of abandoned or marginal agricultural fields located within the Bushley Bayou Unit has been completed through a partnership with American Electric Power and The Conservation Fund. A total of 9,793 acres have been planted as part of a carbon sequestration project. Hunting data is collected and harvested animals examined to monitor the population's health. Chinese tallow trees are sprayed to control the spread of this invasive species.