Pollinators Week at Black Bayou NWR

By Nova C.

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Pollinators are not something most of us think about too much but when we go to the farmer’s market or the grocery store, much of what we eat is produced because of pollinators.  In the US honey bees and other pollinators produce $40 billion worth of products annually.  If you think of some of our favorite summer snacks – melons and peaches, both need pollinators.  For those people who can’t exist without coffee in the morning or chocolate at any point, thank a pollinator.  The ranks of pollinators include bees, birds, bats, butterflies, beetles, and moths, as well as some other animals.

June 15th– 21st is the 8th annual National Pollinator Week Celebration in the US.  It is also Louisiana Pollinator Week.  This is a great time to learn more about pollinators and what you can do to help them. Monarch butterflies are being considered for listing as an endangered species but other pollinators are also in trouble.  The US has lost over 50% of managed honeybee colonies in the last 10 years.  One of the things that you can do to help pollinators is to plant more native plants and reduce the use of pesticides.  Native plants are adapted to Louisiana pests and climate and will require less care than an ornamental and are also beautiful.

Saturday, June 20th at Black Bayou Lake NWR we will be having a Pollinator Celebration from 10 – 1 PM.  You can come out and learn about our native pollinators, especially butterflies and see some of our native species and their caterpillars.  You can make a butterfly or hummingbird feeder to take home, play some pollinator trivia to win this year’s poster, and enjoy snacks provided by pollinators.  For more information about pollinators in general go to www.pollinator.org.  For information about the event of Saturday you can call 318-387-1114 or www.Facebook.com/BlackBayouLakeNWR.

Nova is the Education Specialist and Refuge Ranger at the Black Bayou Lake NWR in Monroe, LA.

Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week at Black Bayou Lake NWR

by Nova C.

Walkout Pier at Black Bayou
Walkout Pier at Black Bayou

October 12 – 18 is National Wildlife Refuge Week and here in the Monroe area we have some wonderful wildlife refuges to celebrate.  The first National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt at Pelican Island in Florida.  When he established it, the refuge was only 5 acres and the purpose was to protect birds from plume hunters.  You may have seen pictures of ladies with those fancy hats from back then, well those decorations came from birds including egrets and herons like what you see around Monroe today.  That refuge is now more than 5,000 acres and is one of 562 spread throughout the United States.

Louisiana has 24 National Wildlife Refuges scattered across the state protecting diverse environments and a variety of species.  We actually have the 2nd National Wildlife Refuge ever created, Breton National Wildlife Refuge off the coast.  It was established in 1904 and is the only one that Theodore Roosevelt actually visited.  In this area we are fortunate to have some pretty amazing refuges for you to explore.

Black Bayou Visitor Center
Black Bayou Visitor Center

The North Louisiana Refuges Complex consists of 5 refuges including Red River over in Bossier City.  In Monroe we have Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge and just north of us are D’Arbonne, Upper Ouachita, and Handy Brake.  If you head a little ways east you can visit Tensas National Wildlife Refuge and if you are really lucky see a bear.  Heading north into Arkansas are ever more refuges including Felsenthal.

An alligator, one of the many animals found at Black Bayou Lake NWR
An alligator, one of the many animals found at Black Bayou Lake NWR

Refuges have a lot of roles.  Foremost refuges were established to provide habitat for migrating birds and a lot of them are along the fly-ways.  In conjunction with that they provide habitat for a variety of species – animals, birds, plants, fish, and insects included.  There are a lot of different folks who work on the refuges from foresters and biologists to the law enforcement and visitor services and the folks who are a lot times behind the scenes but essential, our maintenance crews.  Once the primary mission of the refuges has been secured, we also manage for human use including: hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, bird-watching, photography, education, and interpretation.  If you are hunting make sure you have our rules and understand them before you hunt.

Fun at Black Bayou
Fun at Black Bayou

To celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week, we invite you to join us on October 18th at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge for the Friends of Black Bayou annual Fall Celebration.  It will be from 10 am-3 pm and has fun for the whole family including a turtle release, canoeing, building bird houses, the turning of the goose, folks from the Children’s Museum and Masur Museum, the zoo and our own critters plus free food.  Celebrate with us and come out and enjoy your wildlife refuges.

Nova is the Education Specialist and Refuge Ranger at the Black Bayou Lake NWR in Monroe, LA.