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Making It Last: Preserving Louisiana's wild places, wildlife, and way of life

LDWF is proud to join other U.S. fish and wildlife agencies in the Making It Last campaign—an effort to highlight the critical work we do to conserve our natural resources and ensure they're here for generations to come.

With nicknames like the Pelican State, the Bayou State, and the Sportsman’s Paradise, it’s hard to imagine Louisiana without picturing our epic landscapes and waterways and the incredible diversity of species that inhabit them. Frankly, there’s no better place to get outside and celebrate nature than Louisiana, whether you’re cruising a cypress swamp in your canoe, heading out for a hike, fishing or hunting for your supper, or simply watching wildlife in your own backyard. Louisianans are outdoor enthusiasts—our natural resources are integral to our way of life.


Our Work

At LDWF, we’re outdoor enthusiasts, too, and we know how important the environment is to Louisiana's culture. It’s our job to not only take care of Louisiana’s fish and wildlife and their habitats but also provide the public with opportunities to use and enjoy these resources. We take great pride in this work. Many of us were drawn to this field by our love for the outdoors. We have a team of talented people—fish and wildlife biologists, ecologists, land managers, educators, and enforcement agents, to name a few—who are passionate about conserving each and every species and place that make Louisiana so special and rich with outdoor traditions.  

There’s so much more to the work that we do than meets the eye—from improving the habitat and chance of survival for a rare woodpecker and tortoise species that call Louisiana home to managing and restoring hundreds of thousands of acres of land and waterways to ensure Louisiana remains a paradise for all.

Explore the gallery below and see some of the ways LDWF is making Louisiana’s natural heritage last. We can bet you’ll discover something new about what we do or to appreciate about Louisiana’s great outdoors.

 

What You Can Do

License fees are our main source of funding. If you don’t hunt or fish, consider purchasing a Wild Louisiana Stamp, which allows you to access any of our WMAs and other public lands we manage.

Support specific projects or have the Foundation direct your money to where it’s needed most.

Enjoy all that Louisiana’s outdoors have to offer. Make memories with your family and friends or share a new experience with a visitor. Remember to slow down, take it all in, and don’t worry—with our continued work, it’ll all be here for a while.

Get involved.

Volunteer with us, get technical assistance in managing your land for wildlife, partner with us to protect habitat on your land, or help us keep an eye out for rare species.

Keep learning about what we do and why it matters.

  • Check out our Events and Education tab for information on our outdoor education courses, workshops, and special events.
  • Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to keep up with our latest news.
  • Read the Louisiana Conservationist, the state’s longest running outdoor magazine.

 

Gopher tortoise conservation
For most turtles, Louisiana’s numerous waterbodies, marshes, and dense woods are paradise. But gopher tortoises thrive in the state’s easternmost Florida parishes in the sandy, well-drained soils of well-managed upland pine and mixed-pine hardwood forests. Here, they use their shovel-like forefeet to dig extensive, underground burrows critical to their survival. Unfortunately, this habitat has diminished through the years causing gopher tortoises to retreat to other open areas such as right-of-ways, pastures, and roadsides. As a result, gopher tortoises are considered threatened in Louisiana with only an estimated 300 or 400 individuals left in the state. LDWF biologists are working diligently with public and private partners, especially private landowners, to restore habitat for this unique species and recover their population. We’re hopeful we can celebrate the recovery of another species that calls Louisiana home.
Queen Bess Island
Queen Bess Island, near Grand Isle, is the latest site of Louisiana’s efforts to restore populations of the state’s bird, the brown pelican. Now protected as a state wildlife refuge, the island is the fourth largest brown pelican colony in Louisiana and provides nesting habitat for about 12 species of colonial waterbirds, such as tri-colored herons, great egrets, and royal terns. LDWF, in partnership with the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, recently completed a project to further restore the island’s available nesting habitat from 5 to 37 acres and provide crucial habitat for 12 species identified as Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Louisiana. LDWF is committed to conserving all of our state's incredible wildlife and fish resources and their habitats.
Red-cockaded woodpecker
Red-cockaded woodpeckers are endangered in the United States. About the size of a northern cardinal, the red-cockaded woodpecker has really specific habitat requirements. They are the only woodpecker in the southeastern United States to excavate their roost and nest cavities exclusively in live pine trees. They require pines at least 60 years old but prefer 80 to 100-year old pines infected with red heart fungus. This species cannot survive without suitable habitat for nesting and foraging. LDWF biologists and our federal partners are working with landowners to enhance, restore, and maintain red-cockaded woodpecker habitat, to help this unique species’ population recover.
Fish stocking
LDWF biologists operate four freshwater fish hatcheries to spawn, hatch, and raise several important freshwater sport fish species including Florida largemouth bass; hybrid strip bass; black and white crappie; channel catfish; bluegill and redear sunfish; threadfin shad; and paddlefish. These hatcheries are an integral part of LDWF’s mission to enhance fish populations. For example, stocking areas with fish produced in our hatcheries can speed up the repopulation of a waterbody and stocking Florida largemouth bass can increase anglers’ opportunities for catching trophy-size bass. In addition, stocking freshwater bodies, such as community ponds through our Get Out and Fish! program, provides more opportunities for anglers, both seasoned and new to the sport of fishing, to use and enjoy these resources.
Fisheries research - SEAMAP
LDWF biologists head offshore to sample Gulf waters and the species that inhabit them, from tiny plants and animals called plankton, shrimp and groundfish, to sharks, snappers, and groupers. Getting to fish all day is fun, but it’s also hard work and these data are critical for monitoring the variety of species that live in the Gulf and their habitat. We collect these biological and environmental data for our own use but also share it with regional and national partners, such as the Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (SEAMAP), which coordinates research and data collection from marine waters across the southeastern United States. With these data, fishery managers can make informed decisions about setting regulations that will ensure the long-term health of our marine resources and viability of our fisheries in Louisiana and beyond.
Controlling giant salvinia
Unfortunately, many nonnative aquatic plant species, like giant salvinia, have been introduced into Louisiana’s environment. These plants have no natural checks and balances—their overgrowth can impact native plants and animals, clog waterways, limit access, and alter water quality. LDWF biologists work hard to control aquatic vegetation to keep Louisiana’s waterways healthy and accessible to the public for our favorite pastimes of fishing and boating. Here, LDWF biologists  are releasing salvinia weevils in a waterbody with giant and common salvinia to establish self-sustaining populations of these insects that will provide natural, long-term control of these plants.
Abbeville red iris
Stop to smell the irises! The Abbeville red iris is the only known plant endemic to Louisiana—meaning it does not naturally grow anywhere else. This rare iris is relatively large, growing 4 to 6 feet tall. Its flowers are usually red or red-purple, and less commonly, pale yellow. LDWF staff works to conserve rare species like this, along with all of our state’s incredible wildlife and fish resources and their habitats.
Duck banding
Don't worry, this beautiful  mottled duck isn't being harmed. LDWF biologists temporarily capture them to attach bands around their legs as part of our duck banding study. Biologists attach a uniquely numbered band around the leg of a captured  duck, record information about the duck, and release it. Our staff use information from bands that are subsequently found and reported back to us to assess movements between regions where they’re banded and recovered, estimate annual survival rates, and evaluate harvest rates. This information is vital for monitoring duck populations and sustainably managing harvests.
Prescribed burn
Since the beginning of time, fire has played an important role in keeping ecosystems healthy. When used properly, prescribed burning is an inexpensive and effective way to manage habitat. On Sandy Hollow WMA, LDWF fire experts use prescribed burns to maintain the longleaf pine ecosystem for upland game such as quail and woodcock. Wildlife are nourished by the diversity of plants that flourish in areas that are frequently burned. LDWF staff also offer technical assistance to private landowners and managers considering using prescribed burning to improve wildlife habitat on their property.
Fisheries research - SCUBA diving
To successfully manage Louisiana’s fisheries, we need sound scientific information about our fish and shellfish populations and their habitats. Our biologists gather this information through a variety of methods, even SCUBA diving into the Gulf to study the variety of species that call our offshore platforms home. We use this information to make sure our fish and shellfish populations are healthy and our management efforts are effective.
White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area Birding and Nature Trail
Nestled in Vermilion Parish, White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area is a 71,000-plus acre property managed by LDWF. Because it’s a conservation area, a good bit of it is closed to the public. But White Lake’s Birding and Nature Trail is publicly accessible and is one of the nation’s top places to view a large array of migrant and non-migrant species, mainly due to the variety of habitat we manage on this property. The 30-acre trail is usually open every day of the year from sun up to sun down. Our experts suggest visiting in the early morning, during October through April. LDWF staff work hard to maintain this birder’s paradise and conserve the numerous other species that call White Lake home.
Monitoring freshwater mussels
Louisiana’s waters are home to 66 species of freshwater mussels. While we don’t eat them, these often overlooked species play an important role in our freshwater ecosystem. They filter water constantly as they breathe and feed and improve water quality. They’re also an indicator species—a healthy mussel population means a healthy waterbody, but a population decline can signal a change in water quality. LDWF biologists keep a close eye on freshwater mussels around the state. Three-person crews wade in small streams or use SCUBA gear in deeper waters to search for live mussels and shells. Monitoring freshwater mussels helps us ensure our freshwater systems are healthy, which is also good for the fish, waterfowl, and other wildlife that call the Bayou State home.
Waterfowl habitat
Louisiana is one of the most important wintering areas for waterfowl in the United States. For centuries, hordes of ducks and geese have used the state’s coastal bays and marshes, flooded swamps, agricultural fields, inland lakes, river backwaters, and oxbows during migration and winter. These areas also provide breeding habitat for wood ducks, mottled ducks, and a growing number of whistling ducks. LDWF and partners actively manage waterfowl habitat in Louisiana and beyond to support the state’s waterfowl resources, which attract numerous birdwatchers, researchers, and hunters.
Canoeing at a WMA
At LDWF, we’re outdoor enthusiasts. We manage more than 1.6 million acres of lands and waterways on our wildlife management areas (WMAs) to provide Louisiana residents and visitors with an array of opportunities to discover, explore, and have fun in Louisiana’s outdoors, from canoeing and hiking to birding, wildlife watching, and berry-picking. Our WMAs are for everyone, not just hunters and fishermen. Our staff works hard to conserve the unique habitats and species found throughout our state so we can keep passing down our rich outdoor traditions to the next generation.
Eastern spotted skunk
Once abundant in Louisiana, the eastern spotted skunk hasn’t been seen in the state in more than 30 years. LDWF biologists are trying to understand why this species has declined in abundance but needs the public’s help. Keep a look out for a skunk about the size of a large eastern gray squirrel, with an upside-down triangle on its forehead, a narrow white stripe beneath its eyes, two diagonal stripes across its hip, a few white spots on its rear end, and a bushy tail with a white underside and tip. If you see one, report it to us at 337.735.8674 or jhogue-manuel@wlf.la.gov. We greatly appreciate your help as we work to protect the rare, threatened, and endangered species of our state and understand and prevent threats to the species that make Louisiana so special.
J.C. "Sonny" Gilbert WMA
The thrill of hiking rugged, steep terrain to see crystal clear waterfalls and even spot a black bear or bald eagle is a lot closer to home than you think. Adventure awaits at J.C. "Sonny" Gilbert WMA, a 7,500-acre property tucked into Catahoula Parish by the Ouachita River to the west. Managed by LDWF, the property features marked trails with views of several waterfalls, birding, wildlife watching, and primitive camping, with top hunting and fishing to boot. LDWF takes pride in caring for millions of acres of the state’s lands and waterways so generations of Louisianans can continue to see the wildlife and wild places that make Louisiana so special.
Bachman's fox squirrel
With a white blaze on its nose, the Bachman’s fox squirrel is a unique subspecies of squirrel found in eastern Louisiana. Concerned that its population is declining due to loss and degradation of quality habitat, LDWF biologists are attaching electronic transmitters to Bachman's fox squirrels to better understand their habitat use, range, and survival rate. Data from this research will help us to proactively manage for this species and prevent future population declines. LDWF staff works to conserve species like the Bachman’s fox squirrel and their habitat to ensure Louisiana’s diverse wildlife and fish resources remain abundant.
LA Creel
Through LA Creel, LDWF biologists interview charter captains and groups of saltwater anglers at public fishing areas about their recreational fishing activities. Biologists identify and count anglers' catch, and record fish weights, lengths, and other biological data if time allows. The data we collect through LA Creel help LDWF better monitor and manage Louisiana’s unique recreational fisheries. As a result, we can set more flexible seasons and more localized regulations to increase anglers’ opportunities to get out and enjoy a day on the water, all while ensuring our fish populations are thriving.
Whooping crane conservation
The whooping crane is one of the world’s rarest birds and is listed as endangered in the United States. Conversion of the species’ prairie and wetland habitat to farmland and unregulated hunting led to the decline of this species both in Louisiana and across the nation. In 2011, LDWF and partners began an project to return whooping cranes to the state for the first time since 1950, releasing 10 juvenile cranes into the wild at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area. We continue to release a new group of birds every year to help this species recover and reestablish its population in Louisiana.
Artificial reef habitat
LDWF works with partners to build artificial reefs in Louisiana’s waters, from inshore areas to deep waters of the Gulf. Artificial reefs can be created from materials such as offshore oil and gas platforms, recycled concrete, and reef balls. They’re purposefully placed on the sea floor to increase the amount of surfaces suitable for encrusting organisms, such as oysters or corals, to attach and grow and provide refuge to animals vulnerable to predators. Plus, they enhance fishing for fishermen and scenery for recreational divers.

 

 

LDWF's Making It Last campaign is supported
by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation
through a grant from the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies.