Looking back over 25 years of work at The Nature Conservancy in Louisiana, I’m incredibly proud of all that has been achieved. It’s the sense of place and connection to our natural heritage here in Louisiana that resonates to me and with the thousands of people who have supported our mission over the past quarter of a century. When I stop to reflect on the iconic Louisiana places that have been conserved for generations to come through our work and our partnerships, it gives me a real sense that we are making a tangible, lasting difference.
From one corner of the state to the other and many spots in between, The Nature Conservancy has played a leading role in protecting and restoring some of Louisiana’s most important natural habitats. We’ve logged countless thousands of miles on the roads, in the woods, and through the marshes and waterways, most of the time quietly going about our work with local communities and landowners to help achieve conservation. It’s about applying good conservation science with sound business practices and a cooperative, non-confrontational spirit to work with agencies, landowners, business, and communities that has played a large part in our success.
The list of places we have helped protect and restore includes some of the most important areas in the state from an ecological perspective. Places like the Copenhagen Hills in Caldwell Parish and the Tunica Hills in West Feliciana Parish, both of which have truly unique native plant communities and are true Louisiana treasures. Historic places like portions of the former Singer Tract in Madison and Tensas Parishes and the former Fisher Tract in Concordia Parish are now protected and available for public use. Thousands of acres of longleaf pine in St. Tammany Parish and in Allen Parish in southwest Louisiana are now protected and being restored to their once majestic state. Important coastal habitats like the Mandalay marshes in the central coast, chenier woodlands along the southwest coast, and the live oak forests of Grand Isle are now part of that list of places permanently protected. The White Kitchen area in the Pearl River Swamp and the great Cat Island Swamp along the Mississippi River north of Baton Rouge are on the list. Miles of forested frontage along Bayou Bartholomew, Bayou Dorcheat and Corney Bayou in north Louisiana, and a similar total along the Bogue Chitto River in southeast Louisiana are conserved. We’ve rebuilt miles of oyster reefs in Jefferson and St. Bernard Parish and we’ve restored thousands of acres of floodplain back to the pulses of the Ouachita River. We’ve replanted well over a million trees which have provided homes for countless numbers of birds, bears, and a full spectrum of species that depend on quality habitats here in Louisiana. Thousands of wading birds depend on our Cypress Island Preserve near Breaux Bridge and waterfowl flock to areas like Grand Cote, Lake Ophelia and the Red River areas we have been able to protect. The list goes on and on and these are just a sampling of some of the great places we’ve helped conserve in the last 25 years.
A couple of things are certain to me. While we’ve had great success in the first 25 years here in Louisiana, there is no shortage of work to be done. In many respects the urgency of our mission is even more important today than when the program was started 25 years ago. And none of this work could have been accomplished without the support, help and cooperation of all of you throughout the years. Your support has directly translated to conservation of some of the most iconic places in this beautiful state. All of us here at The Nature Conservancy in Louisiana thank you; you have helped leave a definite legacy for future generations. We look forward to the next 25 years of success!
Keith Ouchley, Ph. D.
Louisiana State Director
Bayou Dorcheat Preserve
CC Road Preserve
Charter Oak Baygall
Copenhagen Hills Preserve
Talisheek Pine Wetlands