Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located approximately 25 miles west of New Orleans and along the south shore of Lake Maurepas west to near Sorrento. The WMA includes property in Ascension, Livingston, St. John the Baptist, St. James and Tangipahoa parishes.
Two tracts totaling some 61,633 acres were donated to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries (LDWF) by the Richard King Mellon Foundation in the summer of 2001. Between 2002 and 2011, LDWF added nearly 12,000 acres to the WMA through acquisitions and donations. In early 2012, LDWF acquired from The Conservation Fund an additional 29,630 acres, formerly known as the MC Davis Tract, which joined the existing east and west WMA tracts for public outdoor recreation use. Subsequent property acquisitions, including the Rathborne, Boyce, and Crusel tracts, have raised the WMA acreage total to 122,098.
The majority of access into the area is by boat, but there are several portions that can be accessed by foot. Major highways crossing through the area are Interstate 10, Interstate 55, US 61, US 51, and LA 641. Major waterways in the area are Blind River and the Reserve Flood Relief Canal. There are 16 check stations located throughout the area where the public can obtain required self clearing permits to enter the area.
Major topography consists of flooded cypress tupelo swamp. Water levels in this area are influenced by rain, wind, and tides. Heavy rains accompanied with east winds cause extensive flooding of the area for days at a time. Other vegetation found on the WMA includes bulltongue, cattail, submerged aquatics, red maple, American elm, sugarberry, Nutall oak, water oak, and obtusa oak. Invasive species include water hyacinth, Bidens sp. “fourchette," and an aquatic fern known as common salvinia. The presence of this invasive vegetation has made much of the area unsuitable for the large numbers of waterfowl that historically overwintered in this vast swamp.
There are numerous outdoor recreational activities for the public to pursue on this WMA. The most sought after species of game are white-tailed deer, squirrels, and rabbits. Freshwater fish, such as largemouth bass, sunfish, and crappie are also pursued on the area. Contract trapping for alligators and permit trapping for nutria is allowed each year. Bird watching, sightseeing, and boat riding are several other forms of recreation allowed on the WMA. A half mile long nature trail is located on the east side of US 51 approximately half mile north of Peavine Road in Laplace. Two tent-only camping areas were established in 2012. One camping area is located on the New River Canal and the other on Reserve Canal (see WMA map for designated camping areas location).
Maurepas Swamp WMA supports numerous bird species throughout the year. Bald eagles and osprey nest in and around the WMA. Numerous species of neotropical migrants utilize this coastal forest habitat during fall and spring migrations. Resident birds, including wood ducks, black-bellied whistling ducks, egrets, and herons can be found on the WMA year round.
Future plans for the Maurepas Swamp WMA including the placement and monitoring of additional wood duck nest boxes, cooperative freshwater reintroduction projects designed to revive the swamp and improved control of invasive plant species that have overtaken much of this important and scenic swamp.
Additional information can be obtained from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Wildlife Division field office, 42371 Phyllis Ann Drive, Hammond, LA. 70403. Phone (985) 543-4777.
Manchac Wildlife Management Area, located in the uppermost portion of St. John the Baptist Parish about 17 miles NNE of LaPlace, was purchased from E.G. Schlieder in 1975. Entrance to the interior of the area is presently limited to various canals. The headquarters are located on the Galva Canal.
The topography is characterized by flat, low marshland subject to flooding, especially with easterly winds. Major vegetation in the past was originally bald cypress, but nearly all of this has been tagged from the area leaving an open freshwater marsh. There is a shallow freshwater pond, known as the Prairie, near the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline comprising approximately 500 acres. This is one of the better duck ponds within the Lake Pontchartrain system. Pirogues and mudboats are the major means of transportation in the Prairie.
Predominant vegetation includes bull tongue, smartweed, alligator weed, and spartina. Submerged aquatics are naiads, pondweeds, fanwort, and coontail. A strip of cypress tupelo is present along the Lake Pontchartrain boundary. The canopy is generally open and the understory consists of black willow, maple, palmetto, baccharis and assorted grasses.
The most sought after game species are waterfowl including scaup, mallard, teal, gadwall, widgeon, shoveler, coot and rail. Other species hunted include snipe, rails and rabbits. Permit trapping for alligator, nutria, muskrat and raccoon is normally allowed each year.
About 50 wood duck nesting boxes have been located at various locations to make up for the lack of mature trees with cavities in them. These man-made nesting sites have been eagerly accepted by the birds.
Other forms of recreation include fishing and birdwatching. Both bald eagles and ospreys have been sighted on the area.
Additional information may be obtained from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Wildlife Division: 42371 Phyllis Ann Rd. Hammond, LA 70403 985-543-4777