The White Lake Property (as referred to in Act 613, 2004 Louisiana Legislature) or White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WLWCA) (as referred to by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF)) is located in southwestern Louisiana in Vermilion Parish. The property is owned by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and managed by the Coastal and Non-Game Resources Division. WLWCA is 71,905 acres, located along the western boundary of Vermilion Parish; it is bounded on the south by White Lake, the northern boundary is 7.4 miles south of Gueydan at the end of Hwy. 91, and the Louisiana Meridian is the eastern boundary. Lafayette is 32 air miles northeast and Lake Charles is 45 air miles northwest. The southernmost point of White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area is 13.3 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. The property averages approximately 12 miles from east to west and 9 miles from north to south. See map below.
WLWCA has a Birding and Nature Trail that is open to the public from sunrise to sunset daily. Year-round access to this trail is allowed with no payments, permits, or stamps required. All other access is scheduled and closely coordinated by staff through public hunts, fishing lotteries, special events, and scientific research.
The WLWCA property consists of approximately 53,249 acres of freshwater marsh and 18,656 acres of leased property that contains a combination of cropland, wetlands, wooded areas, and campsites. The freshwater marsh areas are dominated by the following species: Maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), Bull Tongue (Sagittaria lancifolia), Cattail (Typha sp.), Jamaican Sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense), Roseau Cane (Phragmites australis), Spikerush (Eleocharis sp.), Walter’s Millet (Echinochloa walteri), and Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), in addition to the numerous species of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAVs) present. Also, many brush and tree species are found on the numerous levees and high ground throughout WLWCA. A significant amount of habitat diversity occurs on the WLWCA leased property. This includes cropland planted in rice, soybean, or millet, freshwater marsh impoundments, densely wooded areas, grass pastures and freshwater ponds.
The WLWCA property consists of 53,249 acres of freshwater marsh managed for waterfowl, shorebirds, alligators, and production of high quality habitat for numerous species. Strategies used to achieve successful management include:
- Producing favorable conditions for waterfowl and shorebird habitat and forage growth
- Producing adequate resting/loafing areas and limiting hunting pressure
- Maintaining interspersed open ponds with surrounding emergent vegetation
- Maintaining habitat for nesting and brood rearing of coastal nesting species
- Restoring and maintaining habitat for alligator nesting
- Preserving wading bird rookery sites
- Maintaining trails through the marsh to provide fish habitat and encourage dispersion
- Reducing nuisance aquatic vegetation
The 18,656 acres of agricultural property on WLWCA are managed to maintain all of the cropland (as designated by the USDA Farm Service Agency) in farmable condition and maintain rice production on the property. Furthermore, habitat enhancement for wintering waterfowl is encouraged.
White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area property has a long history of private oil company ownership and management. Stanolind Oil and Gas Company (Stanolind) acquired the 71,905- acre property from Wright Morrow by Act of Sale on July 31, 1935. This sale included all of the property acquired by Yount-Lee Oil Company from P. L. Lawrence, et. ux., by Act of Sale dated March 7, 1931 and a portion of the property acquired by M. F. Yount from Elizabeth M. Watkins by Act of Sale dated November 5, 1929. Stanolind preceded Amoco Production Company (Amoco) which preceded BP America Production Company (BP). BP owned and managed the White Lake property until July 8, 2002 when BP donated the property to the State of Louisiana. On July 8, 2002, a Cooperative Endeavor agreement between the State and White Lake Preservation Inc. a 501(c) 3 corporation, for management of the property was executed. On January 1, 2005, Act 613 of the 2004 Regular Legislative Session became effective. This act established:
1. Transfer of property management from White Lake Preservation Inc. to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF)
2. The White Lake Property Advisory Board (WLPAB), LDWF, and the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission powers and duties relative to the management of the White Lake Property
3. A special account within the Conservation Fund for the White Lake Property. On December 17, 2004, the State of Louisiana, BP and White Lake Preservation Inc. signed a Transition Agreement for the management of the property by White Lake Preservation Inc. until July 1, 2005, at which time LDWF took total control.
White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area is a self-sustaining property. Revenue generation on the property allows WLWCA to fund its entire fiscal year budget. WLWCA generates revenue by harvesting alligators and alligator eggs, conducting lottery waterfowl hunts, issuing lottery fishing permits, hosting other public uses, leasing ingress and egress routes to companies for mineral exploration and mining, and leasing portions of the property for agriculture, hunting, fishing, and other surface uses. By generating revenue, WLWCA is able to operate without the use of any state tax dollars. Mineral rights for the entire property were maintained by BP Amoco, so WLWCA does not receive any funding from oil and gas production, exploration or mineral leases.
For information regarding lottery hunting, lottery fishing, other public access, or mineral resources, contact Wayne Sweeney at 337-536-9400 Ext. 1. For information regarding habitat, wildlife, the birding and nature trail, alligator harvest, waterfowl harvest, agriculture and hunting leases, or management, contact Schuyler Dartez at 337-536-9400 Ext. 2.