National Wildlife Refuge
|209 Nature Road
Lake Arthur, LA 70549
Phone Number: 337-774-5923
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|Lacassine Pool encompasses 16,000 acres of freshwater marsh in southwest Louisiana at the convergence of the Central and Mississippi flyways.|
Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge
Lacassine NWR, in Cameron and Evangeline Parishes in southwestern Louisiana, was established on 12/30/37 by Executive Order No. 7780 as "a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife." The refuge is nearly 35,000 acres in size, including 653 acres leased from the Cameron Parish School Board. The vegetation types occurring on the refuge are primarily water tolerant grasses, sedges, and shrubs. Vegetation in the undeveloped marshes is dominated by bulltongue and maidencane. The habitat is divided into 16,500 acres of natural, freshwater marsh and open water, 16,000 acres of managed, freshwater marsh (Lacassine Pool), 2,200 acres of rice, wheat, soybean, and natural moist soil fields, 350 acres of flooded gum and cypress trees, and 350 acres of restored tallgrass prairie. Wildlife species found on the refuge are those indigenous to the marshes of coastal Louisiana.
Several nesting colonies of wading and water birds such as ibis, roseate spoonbills, and egrets are found here. A large population of alligators and furbearers such as nutria and raccoon are also found on the refuge. Endangered species reported on the refuge include bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and Louisiana black bears. Several hundred thousand ducks and geese use the refuge as wintering habitat while wood ducks, fulvous and black-bellied whistling ducks, and mottled ducks nest on the refuge during the breeding season. Recreational opportunities for refuge visitors abound! The refuge offers fishing, hunting, boating, wildlife observation, and hiking.
Lacassine NWR, known for attracting thousands of pintails each winter (a peak of 300,000), has also seen the effects of the decreasing populations. The refuge hosted numbers well over 100,000 until the mid-1980's then saw the peaks reduced by half in the 1990's. The last three drought years have seen the peaks decline from 30,000 down to around 18,000. The birds still concentrate in the northwest and northeast sections of the Pool.
Getting There . . .
The office/visitor contact center for Lacassine NWR is located at 209 Nature Road, Lake Arthur, LA 70549 and is open weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. If traveling west on Interstate 10, take exit 64 (Jennings)and travel south on Highway 26 to Lake Arthur, west on Highway 14 for 7 miles to Highway 3056, then south 4.5 miles. If eastbound on Interstate 10, take exit 54 (Welsh) and travel south on Highway 99 to Highway 14, east on Highway 14 for 3 miles to Highway 3056, then south 4.5 miles to the end of Highway 3056. Lacassine Pool, a 16,000 acre freshwater impoundment and major feature of the refuge, is at the end of Illionis Plant Road, 4.5 mile south of Highway 14. 3 miles east of Hayes.
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Lacassine NWR is managed intensively for waterfowl and other Louisiana coastal wetland species. The refuge has a wetland management program in which water levels are manipulated for managing naturally occurring marsh and moist soil plants and a Copeland management program where crops are planted to provide food for wintering waterfowl that migrate down the Mississippi and Central Flyways. The refuge also participates in the Mini Refuge program, a partnership program that leases private agricultural lands for a minimal fee of $1.00 to provide sanctuary for migratory and wintering waterfowl.
Habitat is made more attractive to waterfowl and shorebirds by mechanical methods and flooding with costs reimbursed to the landowner or farmer. The refuge also has an active coastal prairie restoration program and a prescribed burning program. Native prairies and marshes are periodically burned on a 3-5 year rotational basis to invigorate native grasses and forbs and to set back cool season plant growth or to reduce the fuel load and organic accumulations in the marshes.
Lacassine has a Wilderness Management program to help in managing the 3,445 acre wilderness area found on the refuge and an oil and gas program to help minimize disturbance from mineral owner's activities. An alligator trapping program is used to manage the refuge's American alligator population. The refuge also has an active volunteer/intern program with thousands of hours being donated annually by volunteers and interns to refuge projects and accomplishing tasks that will likely not be done due to funding and personnel shortfalls. Lastly, the refuge has a public use program to manage all of the wildlife oriented recreational activities offered at Lacassine.