LWF Commission to formally adopt five WMAs into state system

Only one, Ben Lilly WMA in Morehouse Parish, is a new property

Five properties are expected to be officially added to the state’s Wildlife Management Area roster at Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting in Baton Rouge, although four of them have already been actively managed as part of the WMA system for some time.

Marsh Bayou WMA in Evangeline Parish, Hutchinson Creek WMA in St. Helena Parish, Big Colewa WMA in West Carroll Parish and Walnut Hill WMA in Vernon Parish all have been actively managed as WMAs, but are expected to be officially adopted on Thursday.

“At the time they were acquired, our Land Acquisition position was in flux and the properties were included into the WMA system and managed as such,” said Steve Smith, WMA program manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “However, the proper procedure of having the Commission adopt them was not followed, so this is to correct that oversight that was made at the time.”

One new property, Ben Lilly WMA in Morehouse Parish, also is expected to be added to the state’s WMA roster, Smith said.

The 247-acre property is located adjacent to Chemin-A-Haut State Park, and is expected to be open for public use at a later date.

“I think the intent with Ben Lilly is to host some specialty hunts on it, and also to place a boat launch there to access Bayou Bartholomew, as well as possibly have some limited small game hunting,” Smith said. “It’s a small area.”

WMA signage is already up on the property, which also eventually will be available for fishing, boating and sightseeing throughout the year, he said.

Smith was unsure when any public hunting might be possible on Ben Lilly, since the 2014-15 regulations already have been adopted by the Commission without including that property.

With the addition of Ben Lilly, the state’s roster now includes 48 WMAs handled through the wildlife division, Smith said.

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Patrick Bonin is the former editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.