Two Fall Workshops

Ecosystems & Restoration Ecology, Sept. 14, 8:30 – 2:30

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Dr. Joydeep introduces us to our field work in Kiroli Park at our August 2018 workshop.

Once again, Dr. Joydeep Battacharjee of ULM will lead this workshop. We will begin in Kiroli Park, as we did last year, but he is going to look at trail options. Kiroli has several, so we might walk a different trail than we did last year.

The classroom portion of the workshop will again be in West Monroe. I don’t have a space reserved for that yet, but I’m looking.

Over our lunch break, we’ll move to Restoration Park and reconvene in the pavilion at the main entrance, 700 Downing Pines Road, for our afternoon field work.

It can still be pretty hot in September, and that’s why the 8:30 a.m. start. My apologies to those who drive from greater distances.


Fungi, Oct. 26, 9 – 3

Dr. Laura Sims

This is a brand new workshop for us! Our workshop leader will be mycologist, Dr. Laura Sims. So glad that La Tech added a mycologist to its faculty!

We don’t have the details of this one worked out yet, but we will convene at La Tech for classroom work and do field work after lunch as usual.

Suzanne Laird Dartez whetted my appetite for this topic with her excellent certification project presentation last Sunday afternoon, so I am especially delighted that we can offer this workshop.

And that’s a segue to mention that I owe you another blog post – one about those presentations, all three of which were approved by the jury. Suzanne, Kalem Dartez and Susan Hoover have all completed requirements for certification. I’ll get to it asap!

Note: The featured photo at the top of this post is a white-tail deer crossing the water in Restoration Park, West Monroe.



Round Two

Come to Black Bayou Lake NWR this Sunday, August 11, for three more certification project presentations. We begin at 2:30 p.m. in the Education Center.

Like the first three, each of this week’s presentations offers a unique look at an aspect of our interests as naturalists. Here they are in the probable order we will see them:

Fungi project image

Fungi, More Than Just Mushrooms by Suzanne Dartez – Suzanne will discuss fungal biology and ecology in the Southeastern United States, as well as mushroom identification, something I have heard many of us say we need to know more about!

Ecothology image

Welcome to the Northeast Louisiana Ecotheology Forum – by Susan Hoover. This one is all about getting us talking about an ecotheological ethic that we can take back to our respective religious or social organizations, one that we can not only agree upon but act on. Wow! Fascinating.

Stormwater runoff image

Urban Ecology and its Effects on Water Run Off – by Kalem Dartez. Did you ever wonder where all that water goes when the skies open and we get a Louisiana deluge? Kalem is going to explain how it works and the consequences. What a startling image!

I’m not going to promise that we’ll be done in an hour. That didn’t work out too well last time! But, hey, there were no complaints then and I don’t expect any now, as these are fascinating topics. But if at the end of the presentations you’re up for a walk in the Refuge, I’m game!

The jury for this set of presentations will be Nova Clarke, Bette J. Kauffman and a third person to be named. I’m working on it! Hope to see you there, and feel free to invite interested friends and family.


And that’s good news! Congratulations to Bette Kauffman, Charles Paxton, and Kim Paxton. The certification projects they presented Sunday afternoon, July 11, were judged good to go. Each of us got valuable feedback, so here’s a few details.

Kim Paxton lead off the presentations with “Healing Nature.” She cited research that documents the health benefits of time spent in the woods, and presented quotes and points from those studies on an attractive trifold display. Moreover, she mentioned science that documents the negative consequences of “nature deprivation.”

We have already decided…, Ok, truth: I decided her work needs to be turned into a public service brochure that we can hand out. Kim and Charles have produced a draft. Here’s a screen capture of the outside of the brochure.

Kim's project brochure

Kim’s project trifold remains on display at Black Bayou Lake Education Center, so if you’re out that way, stop and have a look.

Bette Kauffman went second and is, first of all, very grateful that people tolerated her Power Point presentation that went longer than it was supposed to! That was, in part, because the nature of the project expanded a bit from its inception. In looking into the natural history of Camp Hardtner, she found an important connection to the larger history of the lumber boom at the turn of the 20th Century in Louisiana, and the resulting devastation of our forests.

So the project is now titled “Camp Hardtner: 100+ Years of Restoration,” and that’s a bigger story than this post can handle! She is still working on getting Camp Hardtner into the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program, and to that end, she and LDWF agent Chris Doffitt have tentatively identified three “natural communities” at Camp Hardtner.

CH Natural Coms slide

Each of these areas exhibits characteristics and has species identified with it. The “Glade” especially caught the attention of Arthur Liles, who has already provided interesting resources that will inform additional work on this project. Is it a “sandstone glade” or a “calcareous prairie”? That’s a really good question that needs to be answered.

For now, work on the project continues and this presentation is available to groups that might be interested in not just Camp Hardtner, but how lumber became a sustainable industry in Louisiana and/or restoration projects in general.

Charles Paxton was the third presenter and his film project an instant hit. “Why join Louisiana Master Naturalists Northeast?” is jam-packed with gorgeous, compelling images and solid information, not only about who we are and what, why and where we do what we do, but also about the natural history and current state of Louisiana’s awesome natural resources.


Wait a minute. Is that black bear wearing a fig leaf? Yup! Added by Charles, of course. So there’s a good laugh in the film as well.

Scenes from our first series of certification workshops and our quarterly meetings occur throughout the film, interspersed with Charles’ fabulous wildlife photography. And on the soundtrack near the end, the mating roar of a bull alligator! What an awesome touch!

Charles has a few corrections to make to the film–e.g., names mispelled or wrong–and the audience uniformly called for it to be stretched out a bit to give us a little more time with some of the images. So… what we expect to be in final cut about a 20-minute film will be up on this website for all to watch as soon as Charles can get it finished.

All in all, a grand day! Thank you again to our jury of Nova Clarke, Arthur Liles and Amy Ouchley. And don’t forget the next one! Kalem Dartez and Suzanne Laird Dartez will present their projects in the Education Center at Black Bayou Lake NWR Sunday afternoon, August 11, at 2:30 p.m.

First Ever!

First ever what? Thanks for asking. First ever presentations of final certification projects by members of Louisiana Master Naturalists – Northeast. How exciting is that?!

So mark your calendars: July 14, 2019, 2:30 p.m. at Black Bayou Lake NWR. Come and see what your peers have done and bring friends who might be interested in what we do. This event is open to all.*

Here’s what you will see, probably in this order:

Healing Nature Ad copy

Healing Nature by Kim Paxton – Kim turned to this topic because she is a caregiver. Her presentation will include a tri-fold display and a short talk. I am so looking forward to this. I have long believed that the world would be a better place if more people took to the woods more often.


Camp Hardtner & the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program by Bette J. Kauffman – This presentation will be a PowerPoint with talk of about 20 minutes. The project itself is multi-faceted and ongoing, but the presentation will familiarize you with what goes into putting a property in the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program, plus give you a glimpse of the wonders of Camp Hardtner.


Why join the Louisiana Master Naturalists – Northeast? by Charles Paxton – We all know Charles is the video guy, and he is living up to his calling! This presentation will feature all the wonderful things we’ve been doing and places we’ve been. And we’ll be able to use it as a recruiting tool.

So that’s the line-up. My excitement is matched only by my anxiety at the amount of work I have to do to be ready!

One more thing: As our certification requirements specify, the projects must be evaluated by a committee of three, of which at least one must be a member of our board. I am pleased and thankful that Nova Clarke, board member, Amy Ouchley and Arthur Liles have agreed to be our first “jury.”

I plan to invite our local workshop leaders, although I know that Dr. Joydeep is back in the Himalayas doing research this summer. You are encouraged to invite family and friends. This will be a celebration of who we are and what we have done.

A couple of BTWs: 1. We’ll either be in the Visitor Center or the Education Building at BBL; it might depend on how many people come. 2. After the presentations, weather permitting, those who wish will….    wait for it…                                         go for a hike, of course!

Special note: I do not recommend bringing small children who might have trouble sitting reasonably quietly through three presentations.

Fish Creek & FS 568

The Catahoula Ranger district of the Kisatchie National Forest encompasses 121,500+ acres extending from Ball, La., all the way to Saline, La. It offers an awesome variety of plant species for master naturalists in training to practice their skills on, and Dr. Charles Allen, our workshop leader, seems to be on intimate terms with every one of them!

Our morning field work took us to an area along Fish Creek that was new to me. What an interesting variety of trees! We parked our cars at a trail head, and identified at least six species before we headed down the trail.

Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)
Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum) is one of the 20% of plants that have opposite leaves.          ©Bette J. Kauffman

These included several things you don’t get to see everyday: a sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) with upturned sprays of not-quite-open flowers, an American hop-hornbeam (Ostraya virginiana) with hundreds of its hops-like blooms hanging down, and a chittimwood (Bumelia/Sideroxylon lanuginosa).

I photographed 36 different species of plant on the short hike in to the Fish Creek swimming hole and out again, but I know I did not get photos of everything Dr. Allen showed us and talked about.

Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)
The sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) holds out her sprays of recurved blooms like a woman drying her nail polish. I had heard and Dr. Allen confirmed that these flowers make for excellent honey.         ©Bette J. Kauffman

After a short break back at the Georgetown gas station, we headed straight west on Hwy 500 then north on FS 568 to an area where wide trails extend east and west. We took the eastbound one, as it was higher and drier.

Sadly,  the many red buckeyes I saw blooming profusely when I scouted the area in late April were now just lovely dark green bushes. This short hike turned into a bit of an “edibles” class, as Dr. Allen introduced us to peppergrass (Lepidium virginicum), which flavors bread wonderfully, and ground cherries (Physalis spp.), which I remember eating on the Iowa farm where I grew up.

A highlight of this walk, especially for me, was the female swamp darner (Epiaeschna heros) we spied depositing eggs on a piece of rotting wood. Ovipositing females are pretty easy to approach, being focused on their work, and I got pretty close to this one. Suddenly, much to my surprise, she turned away from the log and began buzzing my head.

My first reaction was startled self-defense and I swatted at her, until someone suggested I allow her to perch. I held up my right hand and she immediately landed on the side of my pinky finger–and stayed there for an amazingly long time! But she was on my right hand, so I couldn’t take a picture. To see this, you’ll have to go to Charles Paxton’s Wild Open Eye blog post, which I shared in the LMN-NE Facebook group. What a delight!

Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna heros) (female)
A swamp darner (Epiaeschna heros) deposits eggs in a crevice in a rotting log.        ©Bette J. Kauffman