Two potential new WMAs on track for Morehouse and Union parish

Chemin-A-Haut Bayou and Bayou DeLoutre could be WMAs by spring of 2016, LDWF says

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has reached a tentative agreement with Molpus Woodlands Group that would give Morehouse and Union parish two brand new wildlife management areas, possibly as early as next spring.

According to a news release, the agreement centers on 8,755 acres that would be managed as two separate WMAs: Chemin-A-Haut Bayou in Morehouse Parish, and Bayou DeLoutre in Union Parish.

“We’re excited about the possibility of adding these critical expanses to our WMA roster,’ Robert Barham, LDWF secretary, said. “One of our top goals is to continue to ensure viable wildlife resources are sustained in all areas of the state. Creating WMAs at Chemin-A-Haut and Bayou DeLoutre would be a major step in that direction.

“Another positive is that we’ll be increasing the opportunities for Louisiana residents to enjoy all that our WMAs have to offer.’’

The benefits of acquiring and transforming Chemin-A-Haut and Bayou DeLoutre properties into WMAs are many, including increasing water quality in the Ouachita River Watershed, which serves approximately 180,000 people, the release states.

Bayou DeLoutre is a designated Louisiana Natural and Scenic River.

The Chemin-A-Haut tract is part of the Bayou Bartholomew drainage, which also is a designated Louisiana Natural and Scenic River. It is one of America’s most diverse waterways, containing over 115 species of fish. Bayou Bartholomew has the highest fish and mussel diversity in the state and contains several federally endangered mussels, including the rabbitsfoot and the pink mucket.

The Louisiana Natural Heritage Program tracks four species of fish and 12 species of mussels in this watershed and considers this area a high priority for conservation.

These properties also are located in critical habitat for the federally threatened Louisiana black bear and serve as denning and foraging areas for this species.  Other species that utilize these areas include songbirds, eagles, and many species of bats.