News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: October 29, 2014
Alan Matherne, Marine Extension Agent; Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; Louisiana Sea Grant / LSU AgCenter
Public areas provide outdoor opportunities
Most states have outdoor areas set aside for public use. Louisiana is no exception with over fifty Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), five Kisatchie National Forest units, more than twenty national wildlife refuges, and a half dozen or so state wildlife refuges located throughout the state. Collectively, that adds up to millions of acres of outdoor areas available for public use statewide, and that’s not even including the sixty plus public lakes and other water bodies. These public outdoor recreation sites have been set aside to preserve land and water areas for outdoor recreational use and as habitat for our native plant and animal species.
Managed primarily to provide public hunting and fishing access, WMAs are also open to non-consumptive activities such as hiking, boating, canoeing, bird watching, and sightseeing. Louisiana’s WMAs are managed by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Access is open to the public, but permits are required. Information concerning our WMAs can be obtained by going to the WMAs website at wlf.la.gov/wma. Included at the site you will find downloadable maps, area descriptions, and links to hunting and fishing regulations specific to the areas.
The Kisatchie National Forest system consists of more than six hundred thousand acres spread across seven Louisiana parishes. It is divided into five units termed Ranger Districts. The website is located at www.fs.usda.gov/kisatchie and contains a wealth of information concerning this forest system. Downloadable maps, brochures, and forms are also available there. When visiting one of the units you may want to stop by the local Ranger District office to obtain large maps, brochures, and other helpful information from the friendly staff.
Information concerning Louisiana’s national wildlife refuges can be obtained by going to www.fws.gov/refuges and clicking on the state. This will bring up a Louisiana map depicting the names and locations of our national wildlife refuges. Click on any of these and you will be taken to the refuge’s site where you will find information including an overview of the area, recreation and education opportunities, and management activities.
Louisiana’s state wildlife refuges are managed by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Information concerning these can be found at wlf.louisiana.gov/refuges.
To learn more about the state’s sixty plus public lakes and water bodies just go to wlf.louisiana.gov/public-areas/water-bodies and find out what lake, creek, bayou, river, or reservoir may be available in your area.
Louisiana’s public lands and waters are a tremendous resource for people who want to enjoy outdoor activities but are limited in their access to private areas. I personally have visited many of these and have utilized them for hunting, fishing, hiking, and canoeing. They’re great places to just “get away from it all” for a while and I encourage you to check them out.
Alan Matherne is the Louisiana Sea Grant / LSU AgCenter Marine Extension Agent specializing in Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.