The CC Road Savanna Preserve contains high quality longleaf pine savanna and an especially scenic series of ponds and beech magnolia forest. The preserve harbors a population of the federally endangered American chaffseed (Schwalbea americana) which had not been documented in Louisiana for over 100 years until its recent discovery at this site. This rare plant occurs in moist habitat on naturally-occurring low mounds in the area and is highly dependent on frequent fire. Other species of conservation significance in this area include the globally imperiled Calcasieu painted crawfish, two globally imperiled flatwood pond herbaceous plant communities, three globally imperiled longleaf pine woodland/savanna plant communities, and the globally vulnerable Louisiana bluestar.
The preserve is in close proximity and ecologically connected to the Calcasieu River floodplain, an essentially unbroken hardwood forest considered among the most important stopover areas for trans-Gulf migrant birds. The Calcasieu River supports at least three rare freshwater mussel species – the globally critically imperiled Southern hickorynut and Louisiana pigtoe, and the globally vulnerable Texas pigtoe.
The preserve is not open for public visitation.
The preserve is located in southwestern Allen Parish, about 15 miles northeast of Lake Charles, LA.
The Conservancy selected this site for its location within the flatwoods region of the West Gulf Coastal Plain, the presence of important native species and plant communities, and its potential for longleaf savanna restoration.
The longleaf pine flatwoods region of the West Gulf Coastal Plain is an extensive relatively flat area in southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas. The historic dominant vegetation was a longleaf pine flatwood/savanna complex, in which longleaf pine flatwood forests on low ridges and mima mounds and wet savannas on inter-mound swales and other depressions formed a complex mosaic. This vegetation remains in small portions of the region today. Pine savannas are essentially wet grassland communities with scattered trees and shrubs. The typically dense, herbaceous groundcover is dominated by grases and sedges, varying in composition depending on soil, hydrologic factors, and fire history.
Longleaf pine savannas are among the most diverse and most threatened habitats in North America, with only 1 to 5% of the original acreage estimated to remain. Although relatively large areas of West Gulf Coastal Plain upland longleaf pine forests have been protected mainly on federal lands, there are virtually no flatwood sites in public ownership or under conservation management. Because continued loss of longleaf pine habitat is greatest in the flatwoods region, conservation efforts are most needed in that area.
Longleaf pine flatwood savannas continue to decline at an alarming rate and are highly vulnerable if current trends continue. Threats include conversion to pastures and other agricultural endeavors, conversion to off-site loblolly or slash pine plantations, clearing for commercial and residential development, alteration of the natural fire regime, and drainage, among others. Longleaf pine savannas and other associated wetland communities are considered important for floodwater retention, groundwater recharge, maintenance of water quality, habitat for a myriad of wildlife species and several rare plant species, and other ecological and societal benefits.
The Conservancy is working to restore native longleaf pine savanna habitat on the preserve through removal of off-site pines, reforestation operations, prescribed burning, and control of invasive species. On a broader scale, the Conservancy has been partnering with conservation-minded landowners in the near vicinity, who collectively own several thousand acres being restored to native habitats. Our key conservation strategy calls for protection of at least 10,000 acres in this landscape to ensure long-term viability of the savanna habitat and the many associated species it supports.