The Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1978 to protect 42,594 acres of wildlife habitat and waterways in northern Louisiana along a 13.7-mile stretch of the Ouachita River.

Characteristic of the LowerMississippi RiverValley, the lands surrounding the refuge were once lush bald cypress and scrub swamp. Over the past century, Louisiana’s forests and waterways have been cleared, dammed, leveed and drastically altered, decreasing habitat for the hundreds of thousands of migrating birds that descend upon the Gulf Coast region every fall. 

The Ouachita River is the defining feature of the region and winds through the refuge, dividing large sections where the river separates two very different landscapes: On the west side, a lush forest of native northern Louisiana trees covers the land, while on the east side, open farm fields unfold for miles. Until the early part of the 20th century, these farm fields were dense hardwood forests. But in the 1960s, when food prices began to skyrocket, lush forests and waterways throughout Louisiana—including in the Upper Ouachita area—were cleared for farming, leaving behind a drastically altered landscape of fragmented forestland.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asked The Conservation Fund to help protect and restore lands for the refuge. Already, we have added 3,900 acres to Upper Ouachita and restored 3,000 acres with native trees. With the help of generous donors and partners, we hit a milestone in 2012 with the planting of a total of 1 million trees here.

Project Type:

Tree Planting

Climate Impact:

In 2013 and 2014, we restored an additional 400 acres adjacent to our existing Go Zero carbon project lands. While these 400 acres will not be validated to a carbon standard, the trees will remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide important key climate benefits, including cleaner air and cleaner water. With your support, we can build on this success and restore this landscape to what it once was.

Additional Information:

Wildlife: deer, turkey, alligator, bald eagle, threatened Louisiana black bear and 265 species of migratory birds — in particular, ducks
Water: cleaner water for downstream communities, including Monroe and West Monroe
Economy:  creation of tree-planting jobs, decreased impacts of flooding for farmers and downstream residents
Recreation: visitors can hike, fish, bird watch, hunt, and learn about nature on many of the tracts
Conservation Partner: United States Fish and Wildlife Service