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National Wildlife Refuge

11372 Hwy 143
Farmerville, LA   71241
E-mail: northlouisianarefuges@fws.gov
Phone Number: 318-726-4222
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The bottomland hardwoods of D'Arbonne NWR support a diversity of plants and wildlife which affords numerous wildlife dependent recreational activities.
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D'Arbonne National Wildlife Refuge

D'Arbonne National Wildlife Refuge, located north of West Monroe, Louisiana, lies on the western edge of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. It was established in 1975 to protect bottomland hardwoods and provide wintering habitat for migratory waterfowl. Additionally the refuge provides habitat for alligators, bald eagles, the little known Rafinesque's big-eared bat and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. The refuge is bisected by 13 miles of Bayou D'Arbonne, a stream in the Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers System, and is crisscrossed by numerous creeks, sloughs and oxbow lakes. Cypress swamps, bottomland hardwood and upland forests complete the landscape that is habitat for a diverse group of plants and animals. D'Arbonne NWR also has the national record mayhaw tree, a wetland species with fruit that makes delicious jelly. D'Arbonne is one of four refuges managed in the North Louisiana Refuges Complex.

In years of normal or above rainfall, the refuge's bottomland hardwood forest is a very important overflow area for the Ouachita River basin. High water levels, which usually occur between January and May, can flood up to 87% of the refuge. The wetland forests not only provide habitat to wetland dependent wildlife, but they also reduce damage from flooding in developed areas, they filter silt and other particles from the water, they help neutralize pollutants in the water, and they provide recharge areas for aquifers (natural underground water storage areas).

Getting There . . .
D'Arbonne National Wildlife Refuge is located in Ouachita and Union Parishes on either side of Bayou D'Arbonne near its confluence with the Ouachita River. Take White's Ferry Road (Hwy 143) north out of West Monroe. This highway forms the eastern refuge boundary and there are seven access points with parking lots along the highway. The refuge complex headquarters is located approximately 7 miles north of West Monroe at the intersection of Hwy 143 and Holland's Bluff Road. Consult the brochure map for many access points.

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Wildlife and Habitat

D'Arbonne NWR is mostly comprised of bottomland hardwood forest with some surrounding upland pine/hardwoods.

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D'Arbonne NWR was established in 1975 in mitigation for the Ouachita and Black Rivers Navigation Project.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
Management activities on D'Arbonne refuge help maintain the diverse habitats that support a wide variety of wildlife species. Selective thinning occurs in the bottomland hardwood stands to allow more sunlight to reach the forest floor and thus encourage growth of forage plants. Thinning also produces a healthier forest with trees of different ages and heights.

Approximately 540 acres on the west side of the refuge was cleared for agriculture prior to public ownership. Management practices in this moist soil area include seasonal water level manipulations and mowing. These activities stimulate growth of native wetland plants and an abundance of insects, crustaceans and mollusks, which are preferred foods of waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds. The refuge has wood duck and blue bird nesting box programs. Wood ducks are banded each year.

On the uplands west of Bayou D'Arbonne, select cutting is being used to convert unnatural pine stands into the mixed pine and hardwood stands that were found there historically. On upland areas east of the bayou, prescribed burning, thinning, and pine regeneration are used to create preferred habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Red-cockaded woodpecker management also includes installing man-made nesting cavity inserts, removal of predators from nest cavities, monitoring nesting success, banding woodpeckers and occasionally transplanting birds.