Two Hundred Years of Forest Change on the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana

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Prescriptions in the forest habitat management plan for Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana, are designed to “produce a classic bottomland hardwood forest once represented in the Tensas Basin.” Reconstructing forests can be problematic because hydrology, soils, and plant communities may have changed since the forests were first cut. Original forest conditions in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley were optimum for wildlife diversity. Management that hastens a return to a forest with structure and ecosystem values similar to climax or climax-like forest has been proposed.  Scientists at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center are: (1) investigating the conditions of old-growth forest of Franklin, Madison, and Tensas Parishes, Louisiana; and (2) developing a geodatabase of forest conditions in Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge for six time periods spanning 200 years. To address the first objective, scientists are consulting numerous historical sources: 1938 1:15,000-scale stereo aerial photography, early forest survey data, Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records, tax rolls, maps, Singer Sewing Machine Co. records, Chicago Mill and Lumber Co. records, correspondence of early scientists, interviews with locals, and old reports and photographs. The second objective will be accomplished by analyzing timber cruise data (Land Survey witness tree data, Poinsett Lumber Co., and Chicago Mill and Lumber Co.) and Continuous Forest Inventory data (USFWS).

Author Name
Wylie Barrow
Author Email