On Monday, October 17, 2005 we moved into a new home at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge. This is one refuge within the North Louisiana Refuges Complex and is managed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, as are all of our national wildlife refuges. This refuge is about 4,200 acres and of that approximately 2,000 acres is covered by Black Bayou Lake. This refuge has the major public areas of the refuge complex.
We did most of our work in the visitor center and the education center while we were here. We were the only "live on" volunteers here, but there is a very active "Friends of Black Bayou" group that helps to staff the visitor center as well as raising money for and working in facilities here. The refuge is only eight years old but thanks to the "Friends," the facilities are some of the very best that we have seen.
The refuge is ably managed by Kelby Ouchley and the volunteer coordinator is Gay Brantley. They are both great to work with and Kelby is one of the most knowledgeable naturalists that we have had the pleasure to work with. This was a memorable experience!
We had a full hook-up site with 50A/30A power and a nice lawn. Our site backed on the bayou and looked out on to the refuge. We were isolated from the civilized world, yet were only a few miles out of Monroe and very close to stores and amenities of the city. We were only required 24 hours total, per week of work for our site, but we spent more time than that since we strongly believe in the national wildlife system. In the spring of 2006 the refuge will be adding a second RV site so there will be two positions available for use by resident volunteers.
While this is a small refuge with only a little more than 4,000 acres, it has a lot to see and do. There are many developed areas for use by the public.