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Project RECLAIM

Rehabilitating the ecology of Catahoula Lake through analysis and information management
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  • photo by James White
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Researchers

Data content and analytical responsibility: Jerry Holden Jr., manager of GIS and RS programs, Ducks Unlimited Inc.

Internet applications development: Drew Pittman, PC applications specialist, Ducks Unlimited Inc.

Technical support: Corey Cofer, RS/GIS technician, Ducks Unlimited Inc.

Partners

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Ducks Unlimited Inc.

Project R.E.C.L.A.I.M. is a cooperative effort between the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Ducks Unlimited, Inc. to provide information about the health of the ecosystem for facilitating best management practices with the limited funds available. Primary funding for this project is through DU's MARSH (Matching Aid to Restore States' Habitat) program. Mr. Hugh Bateman, DU's Director of Conservation Programs for Louisiana, authorized this use of DU funds to support improved management of this extremely important haven for migratory birds.

Methods

There are three different facets to this project:

  • Map the densities of encroaching woody vegetation on the lake
  • Map the vegetation types as accurately as possible as they existed in October 2004
  • Evaluate change in vegetation on Catahoula Lake from 1987-2003

Catahoula Lake

Catahoula Lake, located in east central Louisiana, is one of those legendary locations where waterfowl winter by the tens of thousands each year. Catahoula Lake encompasses approximately 30,000 acres, 20,000 of which are considered to be actual lake bed and the other 10,000 acres are hardwood trees. Today, much of the historic lakebed is being overcome by encroaching woody vegetation such as willow, swamp privet, and water elm. These woody species shade out the moist soil plants that naturally grow at Catahoula Lake. This drastically reduces the amount of available forage for waterfowl and makes Catahoula lake less attractive to most waterfowl species. In addition, it has been noted that the vegetative composition of the lakebed has been changing over the years and it was deemed necessary to capture the vegetative composition of the lake as of 2004. Now that this is complete, further changes in the ecology of Catahoula Lake can be evaluated against the benchmark of 2004.

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