How Russell Sage WMA began

The January 1961 announcement of the first state-owned game reserve in the Louisiana Conservationist was pretty simple and modest.

“The Louisiana Wild Life and Fisheries Commission has acquired title to approximately 15,000 acres of land located primarily in Ouachita Parish,” the article read. “This large tract will be dedicated as a wildlife management area and is the first land ever purchased by the (C)ommission for that purpose.”

The tract of land would originally be called “Ouachita Farms.”

Today, of course, outdoor enthusiasts realize what an important time that was and how paramount it was to preserving public land for outdoor pursuits.

The article did point out that the area was “in the famous Lafourche (Bayou) hunting area” and “there is an immediate need now in Louisiana for this type of land acquisition that will be even more critical within the next 10 to 15 years.”

Total sales price for the 15,000 acres? A modest $440,000 — less than $30 an acre.

It was funded by money from the Russell Sage Foundation in New York where “voters approved a $60,000,000 bond issue to finance land acquisition programs for outdoor recreation” through the foundation, the article stated.

Thus, the name change reflected that: Russell Sage.

At the time of the purchase, Jimmie H. Davis was Governor and L.D. Young Jr. was director of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

About Kinny Haddox 574 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.

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