What a special time we had learning about upland hardwood forests and touring Heartland Natural Area that surrounds the home of Kelby &Amy Ouchley!

Kelby Ouchley
Kelby Ouchley is a great storyteller!

We heard many interesting stories of the Ouchleys’ 30 years of experience buying bits of adjoining land when they were able, fending of the unwanted advances of pipeline builders, and more. I was particularly fascinated with Kelby’s historical account of how public outcry intervened in the loss of bottom hardwood forests east of the river. But the farms among the hills west of the river were smaller, thus the more incremental loss went almost unnoticed.

IMGP1017 72-15
Heartwood NA is in the LDWF Natural Areas Registry program.

The Ouchleys have preserved a treasure, the 13 acres around the house now 140 years old and one of the few examples of the eco-type available to us today.


After talking and touring, we had our 2nd Quarter meeting on the back deck overlooking the forest. Perhaps most notably, a red-shouldered hawk flew behind me as I conducted the meeting. Everything came to a halt so I could turn around and get into position to see the bird where it had perched in a tree top a hundred yards or so from the deck. Love this group! What other kind of meeting could you stop to view a bird?!

Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium)
Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) thrives around the pond.     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

Highlights: 1) Charles Paxton is working on a t-shirt design. If you have a favorite northeastern Louisiana critter, find or make a sketch of it. He’s going to try to create a collage design. 2) Our next three certification workshops are scheduled. See “News & Events” on the website. I am working on a brochure that will tell about membership and certification at a glance. 3) We must purchase liability insurance. I’m working on that, too!

Northern Red Oak
How did a Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) get here? Who knows. But note that the leaves are wider than those of the Southern Red Oak (Quercus falcata).     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

I’ll post a species list at some point, so anyone who kept a record of what you saw, please send it to me. The Ouchleys say we are welcome back. I can assure you, we will go back. I want to see the upland hardwood forest in fall colors!

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