Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge

Location: Tallulah, Louisiana

Webpage: National Wildlife Refuge

General Description: Established in 1980, the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge protects and preserves one of the largest remaining section of bottomland hardwood habitat on the Mississippi Delta.  The bottomland hardwood forests protects a wide variety of plant and animal species.  Along with 400 species of animals, the refuge protects the largest population of Louisiana black bear, which is a federally listed threatened species.  Today the refuge contains 80,000 acres of bottomland hardwoods and ox-bow lakes out of the 25 million acres in the Mississippi Delta.

Brochure

Impressions:

1) There is a small Visitor Center at the Refuge Offices that has a few exhibits about the hardwood habitat along with stuffed animals.

VisitorCenter

2) The only accessible trail was a short boardwalk behind the Visitor Center that leads out to an observation tour overlooking part of the open area of the refuge.

3)  There is also a 7 mile driving tour that circles through a small part of the refuge.  We were disappointed with this drive as were expecting it to travel through some old hardwood forests.  Instead it is completely out in the open area of the refuge with a small section through a young planted hardwood area where they are actively reproducing the hardwood forest from the old field.

4) The best part of the day was when we drove to another trail out to a lake, with an offshoot leading to a blind that overlooked an impressive egret rookery.  We were within 20 feet of over 30 nesting egrets, some with young on the nest.  We enjoyed nearly an hour of watching the birds tending their young or sitting on their nest.  While this sight may not be all the rare, it was our first to view an active rookery.

Egrets