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Grand Cote
National Wildlife Refuge

401 Island Road
Marksville, LA   71351
E-mail: lakeophelia@fws.gov
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Children observing wetlands on Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge
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Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge

Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1989 to provide valuable waterfowl habitat in the Mississippi/Red River floodplain as part of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The 6,000 acre refuge is located in Avoyelles Parish outside of Marksville, Louisiana. Prior to clearing, this productive bottomland hardwood ecosystem provided ideal habitat for forest wildlife, but the shift toward agriculture and shallow marsh has made it more attractive to a wide variety of waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds. Due to its location in east-central Louisiana, the refuge is influenced by both the Mississippi and Central Flyways and the large expanses of shallow wetlands draw a diversity of waterfowl species.

Although Northern pintails, mallards, wood ducks, and green-winged teal are the dominant species, blue-winged teal, northern shovelers, gadwall and American wigeon are also common during the fall and winter months. Large numbers of snow and white-fronted geese winter on the refuge. During the spring and summer months, a variety of migratory songbirds utilize the bayous, scattered forested tracts, and shallow marsh habitat. Numerous native species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and insects are common residents of the refuge. The Louisiana black bear and bald eagle are both threatened species that could potentially be observed on the refuge.

Getting There . . .
The refuge headquarters is located on Lousisiana Highway 1194, 3.9 miles from the junction of Highway 1194 and Highway 1 in Fifth Ward, Louisiana. Highway 1194 becomes Island Road 0.5 mile from the headquarters.

An alternate route to the refuge from Marksville, Louisiana is south on Highway 115 to Little California Road, 3.3 miles to Island Road, the headquarters is 0.5 mile left from the intersection of Little California Road and Island Road.

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Management Activities
Four main objectives drive management activities on Grand Cote NWR: 1) Provide and maintain an optimum habitat for migratory waterfowl, consistent with the overall objectives of the Mississippi Flyway; 2) provide habitat and protection for threatened and endangered species; 3) provide habitats for a natural diversity of plant and wildlife species; and 4) provide opportunities for wildlife-oriented recreation and environmental education, when compatible with other refuge objectives. The refuge's most important contribution to restoring and conserving the Lower Mississippi Valley ecosystem is providing large expanses of shallow open water wetland habitat for wintering waterfowl, particularly northern pintails.

To provide these shallow wetlands, the refuge uses a series of levees, wells, and water control structures. This infrastructure allows refuge managers to produce and flood natural moist soil plants and agricultural fields (rice, milo, and soybeans) in the winter to benefit waterfowl. Much of the refuge was cleared for agriculture in the 1970's. As a result, the refuge has reforested approximately 1,400 acres with native bottomland hardwood tree species. Important, though less intensive management actions include maintaining wood duck nest boxes, waterfowl banding, and wildlife law enforcement.