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Zoom In Sunday

LMN-NE’s 1st Quarter meeting is this coming Sunday, March 7, beginning at 2 p.m. on zoom. A link to register in advance for the meeting is here: LMN-NE 1st Q Mtg

Our guest speaker is Erin Cox, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Refuge Coordinator. Erin is over Black Bay Lake NWR, Tensas NWR and a couple of other refuges in our area. She will give us an illustrated overview of the USFWS, then zero in on the refuges she manages and what we can do to help in fulfilling our mission as conservationists and educators on conservation.

Tensas River NWR is one of the refuges Erin Cox will talk about Sunday.

Following Erin’s presentation and an opportunity to ask her questions, we will conduct a business meeting. Items on our agenda include approval of two new board members, consideration of a request for associate membership, and lots of information about the upcoming, statewide virtual Rendezvous.

Non-members are welcome to hear Erin’s presentation, observe our meeting, ask questions, make suggestions, etc. (Non-members may not vote, of course.) We do, however, require advance registration. That is for security purposes. See link above!

Hope to see you BOTH Saturday on the Trillium Hike and Sunday for our 1st Quarter meeting on zoom.

Perfect Weather!

The 10-day forecast says 66 degrees and sunny for this coming Saturday, March 6. Perfect for a hike! The Trillium Walk will finally happen.

All systems are go. Dr. Charles Allen, retired botanist and the man after whom this nature preserve is named, plans to be there, along with his wife Susan and daughter Dawn. Scott Meredith of the city of Columbia, which owns the property, plans to join us AND has provided a port-a-john for our comfort! Our birder Roselie Overby is back on tap.

Again, the site is the Charles Allen Nature Preserve in the Copenhagen Hills near Columbia. Don’t bother with your GPS; it will not find this site. The map below will get you through Columbia, and once you’re on Fisher Rd. headed out of town, just keep coming until you see my black Honda CRV parked on the left side of the road.

This map will get you through Columbia. If you are coming from the south, there’s another more direct route. Email me at bjkauffman@gmail.com for those directions.

I plan to be there shortly past 9:30 and hope to head off on our hike at 10 sharp. If you would like my cell # just in case you have trouble, please email me at bjkauffman@gmail.com. BTW, CenLa Master Naturalists, there’s another way to get in if you are coming from the south. Email me if you want those directions.

I cannot be absolutely certain that the trillium will still be blooming. I’m hoping the cold weather set them back but didn’t kill them! The red buckeye should be starting to bloom. Here at home, the freeze turned some of the leaves black on my red buckeye, but the bloom spikes are forming anyway.

I’ll be looking for crane fly orchid leaves to mark the sites for a visit in August when they’re blooming. There’s also a cucumber magnolia–a tree you do not see very often–plus a green ash–and plenty of other wonderful sights, not the least of which is the Ouachita River from the overlook.

Red Buckeye with bloom spikes in formation, on the Charles Allen Nature Preserve near Columbia, La.

Be sure to bring water and snacks if you need them. We will most likely be on the trail for 2 hours. Hiking boots or sturdy sneakers recommended as a short portion of the trail is somewhat steep and the trillium we are seeking grow on the slope of the ridge.

See you Saturday. This hike will be all the more delicious for having been twice delayed!

An Estuarine Reserve for Louisiana

And it’s past time! The most surprising thing I learned in Monday night’s zoom presentation to Louisiana Master Naturalists was that every other state in the union with a coast line already has an Estuarine Reserve, some more than one. So why don’t we? Because Louisiana politics. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised!

But we’re going to have one. Gov. John Bel Edwards has written the required letter and the National Estuarine Research Reserve folks are actively working with experts within Louisiana to pick a site. They are still in the early stages, but Monday’s presenter, Dr. Robert Willey, Director of Sea Grants and renowned coastal preservation scientist, hopes we might be close to choosing a site by fall of this year.

What is the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System and what are the benefits of a NERR in Louisiana? To me, that’s kind of a no-brainer. A program designed to focus scientific and public attention on conserving the coast and it’s related wetlands is surely just what Louisiana needs.

But I came away from Dr. Willey’s presentation with much greater clarity about what a LaNERR (Louisiana National Estuarine Research Reserve) has to offer, what’s involved in getting one, and why we should. And we in northeast Louisiana need to be just as informed and gung ho as the folks in south Louisiana. Our coast and it’s rich habitats and biodiversity affects us all.

Louisiana is glaringly absent from the line-up of state’s having oceanic coastlines that already have a NERR.

So… statewide communication officer Charles Paxton recorded our zoom “Roadshow Presentation” and put a link to the recording on our statewide website. Click here to go watch it. Dr. Willey puts everything in terms all can understand. I’m guessing you’ll come away informed and enthusiastic.

Saturday+

So… it’s going to be cold, at least early. But the Trillium Walk is on! Don’t let a few degrees chill your enthusiasm. You know Louisiana. By the time we head into the woods, it’ll be warming up. Date changed to March 6, Probably won’t be cold!

Dress in layers so you don’t overheat as we walk. We will have a short but somewhat steep segment of trail. It’s not rocky, just covered with leaf litter. When we get to the top of the ridge, it’s easy walking and views of the river are wonderful. (See below.)

The Charles Allen Nature Preserve is about 2.5 miles past the intersection of Boetner and Fisher Rd. Look for my black Honda CRV on the east side of the road (that’s on your left as you’re coming from Columbia).

I’ll be at the entrance to the Charles Allen Nature Preserve by about 9:30 a.m. this Saturday (2/13/2021 3/6/21). Dr. Charles Allen himself plans to join us, along with his wife Susan and daughter Dawn. We’ll start into the woods at 10 sharp. I have also invited CenLa Chapter folks.

Please note that the map shows you how to get through Columbia. I trust you can get to Columbia on your own. And once you leave Columbia on Fisher Rd. you can’t go wrong. Just stay on Fisher Rd. and keep coming until you find cars pulled off on the left side of the road. It’s about 2.5 miles from the last intersection at the edge of town.

Again, hoping our birders will join us because it is Great Backyard Bird Count weekend, and this site is under-birded. Last I heard, Roselie was coming and she is in charge of keeping the bird list.

NEXT UP: Don’t forget! The Events Committee has scheduled a First Quarter zoom meeting March 7 at 2 p.m. Charles Paxton will distribute an invitation to the zoom meeting. Erin Cox, USWF Refuge Coordinator, will be our speaker and we will have a business meeting.

The Ouachita River from the top of a bluff on the Charles Allen Nature Preserve near Columbia, La.

MORE…!

Our Events Committee has been at work! And they have a lot of great ideas. Here’s what’s coming:

Feb. 13, 9:45 – Noonish: Trillium Walk & GBBC – Calling all birders to join us on the Trillium Walk! It turns out that Saturday, Feb. 13, falls within the dates of the Audubon Society’s Great Backyard Bird Count. So we’re going to participate. In addition to spotting trillium, red buckeye and crane fly orchids (see header photo), we will be looking and listening for birds.

I plan to be at the entrance to the Charles Allen Nature Preserve by 9:30 a.m. We want to walk into the woods at 10 sharp. Please see my earlier post here for a map and details. Again I encourage some of you to make plans to meet in Columbia to leave a vehicle in the parking lot there and carpool out to the Preserve, where parking is limited.

BTW, I called the town of Columbia, which bought the property from ULM last year. They are excited that we are using this natural area as intended.

March 7, 2020, 2 p.m.: First Quarter Meeting – Zoom will be the venue for our first quarter meeting this year. (It is my hope and prayer that by 2nd Quarter we will be able to meet in person! But we will stay safe…)

That’s Erin with the giant scissors opening the newly refurbished alligator exhibit at Black Bayou Lake NWR. Photo by the News Star.

The Events Committee has invited Erin Cox, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Refuge Coordinator over several refuges in our area to be our speaker. Erin will give us an overview of the USFWS, then zero in on the refuges she manages and what we can do to help in fulfilling our mission as conservationists and educators on conservation. After Erin’s presentation, we will have a brief business meeting.

In planning: The Events Committee shared ideas they are working on and I am delighted and excited. These include:

Dec. 5 – Fourth Quarter meeting at Kiroli Park, hosted by our own Stuart Hodnett, who now is parks coordinator for West Monroe. In addition to our meeting, we will go birding in the park. Of course, some of us will also be distracted by the other flora and fauna of the park! Details to come.

Second & Third Quarterly Meetings – These will probably be in May and October respectively. Ideas being considered include asking our own Kelby Ouchley and his brother Keith Ouchley of the Nature Conservancy to lead us on an expedition to the Molicy Unit. Yes!

Additional ideas for meetings or seasonal events include asking Gary Stringer to tell us about his whales at the ULM Museum and inviting the new manager at Tensas NWR to talk about the refuge and the bears.

Is there anything in the above that does not totally excite you? I am so on board with all of this and deeply grateful to the Events Committee for their leadership. Here’s who they are: Charles Paxton, Chair, Suzanne Laird Dartez, Stuart Hodnett, Amy Ouchley, Ann Smith. Kim Paxton took notes for them because, you know, with the Paxtons you usually get a two-fer!

Woohoo! It’s gonna be a good year.