Soil Health

It’s new! And it’s our 9th and final workshop of our 2nd Cycle of Certification Workshops.

Soil Health is scheduled Saturday, April 30. A PayPal registration link has been added to the Certification tab of this website. Please register as soon as possible so I can tell the workshop leaders how many of us are coming.

The leaders of this workshop are Rachel Stout-Evans of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Dr. Bill Patterson, La Tech faculty member. I urge you to watch the following 6 1/2-minute video in preparation for this workshop.

Our workshop will focus more on farm soil health, but the video introduces some important principles of soil health that apply everywhere.

We will gather at 9 a.m. on Marty Earnest’s farm near Columbia, La. The address is 1536 Hwy 133, Columbia, which is exactly .11 miles north of McClanahan Road and .35 miles south of Kelly Road. BTW, Google Maps is not accurate for this address; Apple Maps is.

Farmer Earnest is working with the NRCS to increase his soil health by practicing no-till and using cover crops. This workshop will be a combination of looking at soils in a field and some brief, interactive laboratory demonstrations, like aggregation and slake tests, and a sprinkler test to see infiltration vs. runoff. It is likely that they will have some soil test data and crop yield data to share.

I am not certain how long this workshop will run, but, as always, come dressed to be outside, and, as a product of an Iowa farm, I’m assuming that includes water/mud-competent footwear. Bring your own water, snacks/food, bug repellent, etc. Oh, and a cap. You can’t be on a farm without a cap. It’s just not allowed!

Woohoo! I am so excited for this workshop, I’ve already registered.

Rendezvous 2022

Rendezvous 2022 is on! After no meeting in 2020 and only a virtual meeting in 2021, the LMNA state board is excited and delighted to invite Louisiana Master Naturalists to Rendezvous in person, April 1-3, 2022.

Our headquarters will be the Country Inn & Suites in Pineville, La., and our workshops and meetings in the Pineville Convention Center connected to the hotel. A bloc of rooms has been reserved for us at the convention rate of $89 per night.

From a fungi workshop, Rendezvous 2019, Fountainebleau State Park.

Our program is looking very good, with sessions on doing citizen science, the LDWF’s Wildlife Diversity program, the Native Plant Society’s Certified Habitat program, Louisiana’s whooping cranes, the wasting disease threat to our deer population, the Louisiana black bear conservation success story… and much, much more.

In addition to educational workshops, field trips are offered, with one lead by botanist Dr. Charles Allen and another by the state’s red-cockaded woodpecker expert. Our own Stephanie Herrmann is leading a “canoe and haiku” adventure. I will devote a future blog post to the program.

For now, LMNA Communications Officer Charles Paxton is constantly updating the Rendezvous 2022 website here. He us also running a Facebook group that serves as a communication hub for the event here and a Facebook photo contest here. Please be aware that you must be registered and paid for Rendezvous 2022 before you can join the Facebook groups.

Please give Rendezvous 2022 some serious consideration. I have gone to every Rendezvous since about 2015. My only regret/complaint is that it impossible to do and see everything on the program!

The most enourmous cross vine (Bignonia capreolata) I have ever seen, Rendezvous 2019, Fountainebleau State Park.

1st Quarter: Quail

This coming Sunday we will gather on zoom at 2:30 p.m. for our 2022 1st Quarter program and meeting. And just maybe this will be our last members’ meeting on zoom? We can hope!

No later than 2:35 p.m., I will ask a member of the Events Committee to introduce our guest speaker. Austin Klais is a wildlife biologist associated with Quails Forever.

From the Quails Forever website.

Quails Forever is sometimes knows as “the habitat organization.” Its mission is to conserve quail, pheasants and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public access, education, and conservation advocacy.

We will have opportunity for questions and discussion. This should be a highly interesting and informative hour.

At 3:30 we will conduct a short business meeting. Items on our agenda include upcoming events, especially Rendezvous 2022.

Please be reminded that our meetings are open to any person interested in learning more about us. Members should have received the zoom invite via email earlier today. Please do not share it on social media but feel free to send it to people you know who might want to attend.

If you did not receive the zoom link via email and want to attend, please contact me via <>.

I’m looking forward to seeing you Sunday on zoom!

Waterfall Hike

This Saturday, Feb. 26, Master Naturalist Suzanne Laird-Dartez will lead a hike to the waterfalls in the J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert Wildlife Management Area near Sicily Island. Don’t miss it! This is surely one of Louisiana’s most beautiful and unusual WMAs.

St. Mary’s Falls

One thing that makes this WMA unusual is the steepness of the terrain. Indeed, it has waterfalls! Waterfalls are not at all common in mostly flat Louisiana. Suzanne recommends that you carry a trekking pole. I have two and I can’t go so if anyone wants to borrow mine, contact me to make arrangements.

To join the hike, 1) be at the Rock Falls Trailhead inside the WMA at 10:30 a.m., OR 2) be at the Dollar General in Wisner at 10 a.m. to caravan to the trailhead. After hiking the 1.5 mile Rock Falls Trail, those who want more will caravan to the St. Mary’s Falls trailhead to hike another 1.5 mile loop.

In addition to a trekking pole, bring your own water, snacks, and bug repellent. These trails are rather steep and rocky in places; wear serious footgear.

Also be reminded that to visit a Louisiana WMA, you need a current hunting, fishing or wild Louisiana license.

Trillium (Trillium sp.) on the Rock Falls Trail, March 2019

Finally, it’s late February. That means you might get to see a snake and it almost certainly means the trillium will be up and possibly blooming. Keep a sharp eye and have fun!

This event is hosted by Louisiana Master Naturalists–Northeast but is open to all who are able to handle a “moderate difficulty” hike. Here’s a link to Suzanne’s Facebook event: Waterfall Hike.

February Fun

Folks, we have some good stuff scheduled in February! Here’s an overview.

February 10, 5:30 p.m. – Nature Photography 2, conducted by Charles Paxton on zoom. That’s this coming Thursday evening. Contact Charles at <> for the zoom link.

February 13, 2 p.m. – We’ll meet at Black Bayou Lake with our kayaks and canoes and paddle to the eagle’s nest. If you need to rent a kayak, contact H2Go. I’ll do a blog post about this event with additional details soon.

Black Bayou Lake, Kayak View

February 17, 5:30 p.m. – Wild Talk, an online conversation salon about natural history subjects. The subject for February is “Birds.” I am busy planning quiz questions! But I want others to provide quiz questions as well, because I can’t compete answering my own questions, right? So… we just had a terrific Birds workshop and LOS has just completed its winter meeting; sharpen your pencils, folks. This should be fun and educational. Again, contact Charles Paxton at <> for the zoom link.

February 26, 10 a.m. – Suzanne Laird Dartez will lead us on the Waterfall Hike at the J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA near Sicily Island. We’ll meet at the Dollar Store in Wisner. I’ll do a blog post with more details on this event closer to the time.

February 27, 2:30 p.m. – 1st Quarter Member meeting; guest speaker: Auston Klais, Wildlife Biologist with Quail Forever. Zoom event. Again, blog post with details forthcoming.

Screen capture, Quail Forever website, 1/30/2022.

Its looking like a fun month! See you soon.