Recent Posts



No tags yet.


Bayou-Diversity (28 June 2020) In 1906 John Martin Goyne was awarded a contract with the state of Louisiana to cut a road from Crossroads to West Monroe. It came to be known as White’s Ferry Road and runs more or less north-south across the southeast corner of the D’Arbonne Swamp. According to the Louisiana Department of Highways about 4,000 vehicles travel this way each day. Like many natural areas, the swamp is basically unknown to most people passing through it including those who live nearby. Today, maybe 200 people in the regional metropolitan area of 175,000 have some familiarity with it and the wild flora and fauna. Their knowledge was acquired for the most part while engaged in the consumptive activities of hunting and fishing, pursuits that for those who are receptive can yield a rewarding environmental education. But for the masses, the swamp and other natural areas are mysterious and even frightening places. More than one hundred years ago, John Muir summed up the situation when he declared, “Most people are on the world, not in it [and] have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them. . .”

With so many distractions, how does one become “in” the natural world today, at least to the point of understanding that our well-being is inseparably linked to that of our environment? A basic first step is to learn what wild plants and animals live in your area. It must go beyond a vague awareness that different types of trees live in a forest and different kinds of fish swim in the bayou. Learning the names of plants and animals is critical to realizing the richness of biodiversity. Aids abound in the form of naturalist programs, field guides, and websites that specialize in regional plants, birds, insects, reptiles, etc. It follows that one cannot learn the names of flora and fauna without becoming curious about their habits and behavior. Emerging insights rouse mental questions such as where do the backyard Baltimore orioles go in winter, or are the ubiquitous loblolly pine plantations really forests. As knowledge accumulates it becomes more difficult to ignore headlines declaring unprecedented bird declines (almost 3 billion fewer birds in North America than 48 years ago; more than 1 in 4 have disappeared). It is easier to understand how the collapse of global insect populations as widely reported in recent scientific studies will affect humans, including those who drive up and down White’s Ferry Road. (Text & photo ©Kelby Ouchley; photo red-bellied woodpecker and sassafras)


©2018 by Bayou-Diversity. Proudly created with