What makes this preserve unique?
CC Road Savanna Preserve contains some of the best remaining examples of wet longleaf pine flatwood savanna in southwestern Louisiana. Among the diverse assemblage of plants found on the preserve is the federally endangered American chaffseed (Schwalbea americana), which had not been documented in Louisiana for over 100 years until its discovery at this site in 1996. This rare plant exhibits a highly disjunct distribution and the CC Road population is one of two currently known from Louisiana (with a more recent discovery from another southwest Louisiana site in 2008), with the Louisiana populations being the only known currently west of Georgia. This modest-sized herbaceous plant occurs in moist longleaf pine habitat on naturally occurring low mounds (“pimple mounds”) and is highly dependent on frequent fire. Other species of conservation significance known to be present on the preserve include Oklahoma grass-pink orchid (Calopogon oklahomensis), and the globally vulnerable Bachman’s Sparrow (Aimophila aestivalis). Others known in the general area include the globally imperiled Calcasieu painted crawfish (Orconectes blacki), and the globally vulnerable Louisiana bluestar (Amsonia ludoviciana), a putative Louisiana endemic species.
The preserve is in close proximity and ecologically connected to several tracts of private land under conservation management, the Calcasieu Wetland Mitigation Bank, which TNC helped establish, and the Calcasieu River floodplain, an essentially unbroken hardwood forest considered among the most important near-coast stopover areas for trans-Gulf migrant birds. The Calcasieu River supports at least three rare freshwater mussel species—the globally critically imperiled Southern hickorynut (Obovaria jacksoniana) and Louisiana pigtoe (Pleurobema riddellii), and the globally vulnerable Texas pigtoe
Although there are no trails developed for public use on the preserve, Martin Tram Road bisects the preserve and provides a convenient opportunity to view some of the high-quality forest found on the property.
Why TNC Selected this Site
TNC 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 to serve as a platform to demonstrate restoration and management of longleaf pine flatwood savanna.
The longleaf pine flatwoods region of the West Gulf Coastal Plain is an extensive relatively flat area in southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas. The historically dominant habitat was a longleaf pine flatwood/savanna complex, in which longleaf pine flatwood forests on low ridges and pimple mounds (also called “mima mounds”) and wet savannas in inter-mound swales and other depressions formed a complex mosaic. Only relatively small, highly fragmented examples of this ecosystem remain in the region. Longleaf pine savannas are essentially wet grassland communities with scattered trees and shrubs, maintained by frequent fire. The typically dense, herbaceous groundcover is dominated by grasses, sedges, and a wide variety of forbs (“wildflowers”), varying in composition from place to place, primarily as a result of differences in soils, hydrologic factors, fire and other land management 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, other than those currently in wetland mitigation banks. 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 and animal species, and other ecological and human benefits.
What TNC Has Done/Is Doing
TNC is working to restore native longleaf pine savanna habitat on the preserve through removal of off-site pines and hardwoods, replanting longleaf pine, prescribed burning and control of invasive species. On a broader scale, TNC 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.