Ducks Unlimited is working with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) to enhance waterfowl habitat on Sherburne Wildlife Management Area (WMA) between Baton Rouge and Lafayette. The 28,000-acre Sherburne WMA is a critical area for wildlife in the southern portion of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) in the Morganza Floodway system of the Atchafalaya Basin between the Atchafalaya River and the east Protection Guide Levee. Sherburne has a mixture of mature bottomland hardwood, scrub-shrub and emergent wetlands to provide habitat for a range of wetland-dependent wildlife species. Its location within the highly altered and impacted portion of the Atchafalaya Basin makes it a key component of the conservation of the Atchafalaya and Mississippi rivers and an important area for DU’s America’s River Initiative. To optimize wildlife values and public recreation, Sherburne WMA is managed in conjunction with the adjacent Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge. These two properties provide incredible, convenient public outdoor recreation opportunities minutes from two of Louisiana’s growing metropolitan areas.
Portions of the North Farm Unit at Sherburne WMA, which is 728 acres, are actively being farmed while the remainder is being managed in moist soil that currently provides high-quality foraging habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds and many other wetland-dependent species in a key migrating and wintering area in the MAV. Currently, LDWF does not have an efficient way to flood the western portion of the North Farm Unit that is managed in moist soil because of several deep areas that must be filled before water can flow to the rest of the units. Part of this project will fill in those areas to allow more efficient flooding and management for quality habitat while conserving the water. The other portion of the project consists of building new impoundments on the eastern portion of the North Farm Unit that is currently being actively farmed by installing new levees, new water-control structures and installing a new well and underground piping to create additional quality wetland habitat. The work on North Farm Unit, which is located in Iberville Parish, about 25 miles west of Baton Rouge, will enhance 728 acres of wetland habitat.
Partners on the project include Ducks Unlimited, Wetlands America Trust, the LDWF, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, private landowners and the North American Wetlands Conservation Council. Project construction should be completed in summer 2020.