COOPERATIVE EFFORT IMPROVING WATERFOWL HABITAT AT CATAHOULA LAKE

Release Date: 10/15/2007

A cooperative effort to improve the overall quality of aquatic vegetation within Catahoula Lake is making a difference for migratory waterfowl at the lower end of the Mississippi flyway.


Through use of an environmentally safe herbicide application strategy, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and Ducks Unlimited (DU) biologists are reducing the number of undesirable plants that have emerged in the lake in recent years. 


Generous assistance has been provided by CropLife America member companies Dow AgroSciences and Dupont; together with DU, they have donated $70,000 worth of herbicides.  CropLife America and DU are partners in the Wildlife Conservation-Technology Initiative.  The objective of this five-year initiative is to expand the involvement of crop technology used for the restoration and management of habitat for the benefit of North American waterfowl.


The 30,000-acre lake is located in LaSalle and Rapides parishes and was recognized by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1991 as a wetland of international importance.


"In a state widely known for coastal marsh duck hunting, the lake provides vital inland habitat for hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl, as well as shorebirds," said David Hayden, LDWF biologist. "If we take care of the habitat, wildlife will benefit, as well as hunters and those who simply enjoy observing waterfowl and shorebirds."


Catahoula Lake has historically provided habitat for as many as 500,000 migrating waterfowl and 20 species of shorebirds.  The encroachment of woody plants into the lake bed; however, has diminished the lake's value to wildlife.  Cooperative efforts driven by LDWF and DU are designed to re-establish the prime habitat that was once there.  While drawn down this summer, approximately 600 acres of the lake bed was treated with herbicide mixes.  Once evaluations of the area treated are complete, plans can move forward to treat approximately 1,200 acres next summer.


"With this herbicide application strategy we can control the invasion of woody plants such as water elm, black willow and swamp privet," said DU Manager of Conservation Programs Dr. Jasper Lament.  "By reducing the presence of woody plants on Catahoula Lake we can improve the growth of aquatic and emergent vegetation."


Noted for his efforts to minimize the effects of woody vegetation on the lake habitat, Hugh Bateman, retired LDWF Wildlife Division administrator and former DU Director of Conservation Programs for Louisiana, led the early coordinated efforts of the Catahoula Lake Vegetation Control Project.  Between 1999 and 2006, Bateman's work secured private and government grants, donated chemicals and GIS surveys to assist in the Catahoula Lake restoration.


For those efforts, DU and LDWF have named the restoration: The Catahoula Lake Hugh Anderson Bateman Tribute Project.  As the project progresses, improved habitat in the lake will mean more opportunities for hunters, fishermen, bird-watchers and hikers.


For more information, contact Robert Helm at 225-765-2358 or rhelm@wlf.louisiana.gov.

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