Just outside of greater Alexandria lies Louisiana's only National Forest. The Kisatchie National Forest is home to some of the best remaining longleaf in the western range of the species. The tour will spend time at the Vernon Unit, known for its sweeping views of the rolling hills landscape. After years of stewardship, the Vernon is quietly becoming a longleaf showpiece equaling anything else found across the range. Frequent use of fire has shaped the forest here, earning the area its nickname of the "Burnin' Vernon". Frequent fire has promoted a rich understory of native warm season grasses, dominated by bluestem varieties, forbs, and fall-flowering species. Fire-dependent longleaf specialists such as red-cockaded woodpecker, bobwhite quail, and the Louisiana pine snake find a home on the Vernon unit, and with any luck will be visible (or audible) during the tour. This great diversity of species coexists where active and compatible timber management is also being practiced. The tour of the Vernon Unit will highlight a Quail Focal Area, imbedded wetlands, RCW areas, and their adaptable fire management program, along with the partnerships that have made these common objectives possible.
The tour will also showcase an award-winning private landowner property in Beauregard Parish. Daigle Farms, the 2017 Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture Private Landowner Conservation Champion, and a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Natural Heritage Site, was once a clear cut. Having come full circle through decades of sound stewardship, the property now represents a functioning longleaf pine savanna alongside the utilization of resources in a manner that is compatible with habitat restoration goals. Through the use of controlled herbivory and prescribed fire, just as historical records confirm it was maintained pre-settlement, the property supports abundant wildlife habitat, wood products, and native understory forage for quality Braford and Brahman Cattle. Nesting and foraging habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker is maintained alongside the endangered American chaffseed plant. Open pinewood savanna provides habitat for bobwhite quail, wild turkey, and other grassland nesting birds. These subjects, and more, make this property one that can't be missed in central Louisiana.
|7:00 AM||Grab the to-go breakfast provided to our group by the Holiday Inn Downtown and head for the chartered buses. Departure time will be 7:30 AM|
|8:00 - 11:00 AM||Bus groups will take turns visiting several morning tour stops including the Kisatchie National Forest.|
|11:30 AM - 1:30 PM||Lunch will be provided at the Fullerton Lake Recreation Complex which was once the site of the Fullerton Sawmill and community (added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986). Ruins and foundations of one of the largest sawmill operations in the South may be seen on the 1.6 mile Fullerton Mill Trail.|
|2:00 - 4:30 PM||Bus groups will take turns visiting several afternoon tour stops including the Kisatchie National Forest.|
|5:30 PM||Chartered buses return to the Holiday Inn Downtown.|