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Girdled Cypress

Bayou-Diversity (19 January 2020) On this place where we live and that we call Heartwood, Rocky Branch flows intermittently throughout the year. In the last few thousand years this stream has carved a flat bottom 200 yards wide in its meandering rambles through the red clay hills on its way to Bayou D’Arbonne. With the shallow water table beneath its watershed now depleted, the creek bed is often bone dry during the dog days of summer. On the other hand, the entire bottom may be inundated ten feet deep during naturally occurring, spring backwater floods. It is a tentacle of the D’Arbonne Swamp. By any measure, legal or otherwise, the bottom is a wetland. The soil is saturated for much

Venison in Limbo?

Bayou-Diversity (12 January 2020) Recently I walked across the street from my house and killed a deer on the edge of the D'Arbonne Swamp. The land there is in the process of producing its third forest in historic times. One hundred years ago my great grandfather tried to feed his large family by growing corn and cotton on the marginal soils of this Pleistocene terrace. Eventually they pretty much starved out, and it was root hog or die for those in my grandfather's generation. One thing is certain. Neither of these close relatives could have supplemented their larder with venison backstraps from the property as I did. In their day deer had been eliminated from this area and indeed fro


Bayou-Diversity (5 January 2020) During the Yazoo Pass expedition of the Civil War, Union Admiral Porter wrote that his flagship Cincinnati ran into a six-hundred-yard bed of willows under a full head of steam, “and there she stuck; the willow wythes . . . held her as if in a vise.” Taking advantage of the situation, Confederates pounded the flotilla with an artillery cross fire, and only with the greatest efforts was the Cincinnati freed to make her escape and end the failed expedition. Of the five native species of willow found in Louisiana, black willow is most common and the one that confounded the Yankees in Mississippi. It grows to a height of more than fifty feet on wet soils of e


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