International Paper donates Bussey Brake, Wham Brake reservoirs to LDWF

International Paper donated more than 8,100 acres of land in Morehouse Parish to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, the agency announced today.

The donations include two reservoirs — Bussey Brake and Wham Brake — and is valued at more than $7.8 million, the LDWF reported. The reservoirs are located near Bastrop.

“This donation by International Paper will preserve these reservoirs for future generations to come for the citizens of Louisiana,” International Paper Senior Vice President Tommy Joseph said. ”We are excited to be able to make this announcement today”.

“Preserving fish and game habitat for public use is a key component in the department’s conservation mission,” LDWF Secretary Robert Barham said. “IP’s generous donation falls right in line with our public access initiatives.”

Bussey Brake, a 2,600-acre fresh water reservoir, was constructed in the mid 1950’s by International Paper to serve as an alternative water source for the Louisiana Mill. International Paper owned 620 acres of the reservoir site with the remaining balance under leases with third parties. Under terms of the donation, the leases will be transferred to LDWF.

LDWF plans for Bussey Brake include a complete renovation of the reservoir’s fish population. The impoundment will be drained and allowed to dry completely. The current fish population will be removed and the reservoir stocked with popular game fish including bass, bream, catfish and crappie. Once re-stocked, the reservoir will be monitored and managed with recreational fisheries a priority. The renovation process will take three to five years to achieve success and the resulting fish population, once established, would self-sustain as a healthy fisheries for several decades.

Wham Brake was also constructed in the 1950’s on IP lands through a joint effort with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. The 5,550-acre reservoir will become part of the (21,948 acre) LDWF’s Russell-Sage Wildlife Management Area, providing preservation of wildlife habitat for future generations. LDWF will partner with Ducks Unlimited to initiate a hydrologic survey of Wham Brake to determine a management strategy for this vitally important waterfowl area. Planned site improvements include better hunter access through additional boat launches and parking areas, improved water delivery systems and more uniform moist soil management units creating added acres of waterfowl habitat.

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