This forest is also the location of Red Slough, formerly one of the largest contiguous wetland complexes within Oklahoma. In the late 1960s the area was drained, cleared and converted to grow rice, soybeans, corn and milo, reducing—and in some cases eliminating—important wetland values such as natural flood control.

Our Role

In 1997, thanks to a generous gift from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, we purchased 3,855 acres from landowner Philip Hogan, who had enrolled 5,814 acres of his Push Creek Farm in the Wetland Reserve Program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. We donated that acreage to the Ouachita National Forest to be put into public ownership and managed to restore hydrology and re-establish bottomland hardwoods in the Ouachita NF. This is the tract that began the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and forms the heart of the Red Slough Wetland Reserve Project.  In 2000, we purchased the remaining 1,959 acres from Mr. Hogan for the forest, which acquired the property from us between 2000 and 2004.  The Red Slough WMA presently consists of 5,814 acres, all of Mr. Hogan's original property.

The area is cooperatively managed by the Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Red Slough is a very popular recreational destination and a premier birdwatching and waterfowl hunting area.

Why This Project Matters

Restoring these historic wetland resources to the Ouachita NF has  ecological, cultural and educational benefits. Migratory birds found nowhere else in Oklahoma can be seen here and birds such as the white ibis, long absent from the area, are returning. Artifacts of the Caddo and Choctaw tribes that once lived in the area have been preserved. And local schoolchildren are learning about the values of forest wetlands and the wildlife and birds that call them home by using Red Slough as an outdoor classroom.

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