Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA Moist-Soil Unit Project

DU Engineer Brad Lambert stakes out the project while the contractor mobilizes equipment to start construction.

© Ducks Unlimited

DU Engineer Brad Lambert stakes out the project while the contractor mobilizes equipment to start construction.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) staff on Pointe aux Chenes Wildlife Management Area (WMA) noticed ducks and wading birds congregating in fields on the southern end of the Point Farm Unit following an abnormal flood event. While much of the northern portion of the Farm Unit has been restored, the southern end is largely unmanaged and provides limited benefits from a wildlife perspective. To address this issue, the LDWF and Ducks Unlimited have partnered to implement a moist-soil unit management project that will replicate that flooding, but at a larger scale.

The project will create an intensively managed moist-soil unit on approximately 85 acres. Specifically, DU will rebuild ~10,800 linear feet of levees using onsite material from an adjacent drainage ditch and install three water control structures. A 2,500-gallon-per-minute portable water pump will be purchased to facilitate water management, and the road through the unit will be improved to enhance access. The project should be completed in July 2019.

In addition to LDWF and DU, project partners include Energy Transfer, Apache Corporation, Lamar Advertising Company, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation, Shell, Phillips 66, Chevron, Axalta, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Global Wildlife Center. The project is dedicated to Kell McInnis, retired executive director of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and a DU major sponsor.

Flooding the fields with freshwater during the fall and winter will provide optimal foraging habitat for migratory birds, including waterfowl. Draining the fields in the early spring will encourage the growth of annual grasses for nesting habitat to benefit mottled ducks and secretive marsh birds.

Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA provides migration and wintering habitat for more than 15 species of waterfowl, including high-priority species such as the northern pintail, greater and lesser scaup, mottled duck, mallard, American wigeon, canvasback and ring-necked duck. Many other species of wetland-dependent birds, including several species of herons, egrets, rails, ibis and shorebirds, will benefit from this restoration. Marshes throughout the WMA also provide extensive nursery habitat for estuarine-dependent species such as brown and white shrimp, blue crabs, Gulf menhaden, Atlantic croaker, striped mullet, spotted sea trout, red drum, black drum and southern flounder.

Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA lies on the front lines between the Gulf of Mexico and the coastal marshes protecting nearby cities such as Houma. It is also among the most popular Louisiana WMAs, providing a great area for fishing, camping, hunting and wildlife watching.