What makes this preserve unique?
Lake Ramsay Preserve supports a significant tract of intact pine flatwood wetlands in southeast Louisiana. It supports high quality examples of longleaf pine flatwood savanna, longleaf pine flatwoods and small stream forest. The preserve, considered together with Lake Ramsay Savanna Wildlife Management Area, supports what is arguably the highest quality longleaf pine flatwood savanna remaining in southeast Louisiana, as judged by leading ecologists in the area. The area supports one of the premier native ground-cover plant communities characteristic of historic pine flatwoods remaining in southeast Louisiana. Numerous rare plant and animal species have been detected thus far. Over 20 rare plants have been identified on the area, including three species that are protected only here in Louisiana: Jackson false foxglove (Agalinis filicaulis), many-flowered grass-pink orchid (Calopogon multiflorus), and Hooker’s milkwort (Polygala hookeri). The latter two of these are known in Louisiana only from this area. Rare animals known to be present include the rare grassland birds Bachman’s sparrow (Aimophila aestivalis) and Henslow’s sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii).
This preserve is open to public visitation. At this preserve, you can walk along an informative boardwalk that runs through portions of the preserve and view of high quality local forest communities, including longleaf pine savanna, longleaf flatwoods, and small stream forest. You can also see a wide variety of fascinating plants, including carnivorous pitcher plants.
Lake Ramsay Preserve is located approximately 5 miles northwest of Covington in St. Tammany Parish.
Approximately 583 acres
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The Conservancy selected this site for its location within the flatwoods region of the East Gulf Coastal Plain, the presence of extremely high quality longleaf pine savanna and many associated rare native species, and its potential for longleaf savanna management. This area was the first unit of the Conservancy’s Southeast Louisiana Pine Wetland Mitigation Bank.
The longleaf pine flatwoods region of the East Gulf Coastal Plain is an extensive relatively flat area of the outer coastal plain, extending from southeast Louisiana eastward to the Florida panhandle. The historically dominant habitat was a longleaf pine flatwood/savanna complex, in which longleaf pine flatwood forests on low ridges and rises mixed with wet longleaf pine savannas in broad flats and swales, forming 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, 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.
This site was selected by The Nature Conservancy in order to preserve one of the last high-quality examples of pine savanna remaining in the Florida Parishes. These savannas are known for their diversity, including several carnivorous plants, numerous rare plant species and a spectacular variety of orchids.
What the Conservancy Is Doing
The conservation vision for this property is to restore and maintain the historic structure, composition, functional processes, and geographic extent of all associated natural communities, with an emphasis on longleaf pine flatwood savanna. The Nature Conservancy of Louisiana is restoring the savanna by removing certain flora with an aggressive prescribed burning program, planting longleaf pine and controlling non-native invasive species. This site is being cooperatively managed with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which owns the adjacent 796-acre Lake Ramsey Wildlife Management Area. The Conservancy’s St. Tammany preserves have greatly benefited from volunteers helping with a variety of projects, such as boardwalk construction and longleaf planting. (see photo above).
Lake Ramsay Preserve is one of three units in TNC’s Southeast Louisiana Pine Wetland Mitigation Bank, which also includes Talisheek and Abita Creek preserves. Wetland mitigation has been a valuable tool to enable TNC to acquire, restore and manage significant natural areas in St. Tammany Parish.