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Two northwest Louisiana recreation areas remain open despite flooding

Kate Archer Kent

Lake Bistineau in northwest Louisiana is above flood stage and has just reopened to boats. The lake is connected to the Red River via Loggy Bayou. Lake manager David Jett is tracking a slow and steady decline in the lake level over the past two days. He’s seen a bigger Bistineau.

“Oh my goodness, I’ve seen it much higher than this. In fact, it was higher than this back in the early spring. In 2009, if I recall correctly, the lake level went up to 147 feet,” Jett said.

People can fish from the banks of Lake Bistineau State Park, located on the west side of the lake. Jett says two campsites are closed due to flooding, but the cabins and dozens of other campsites are open.

The Red River National Wildlife Refuge in the Red River valley remains open to the public. But its five miles of hiking paths are under water. The refuge’s visitor center sits on the banks of Lake Caroline in Bossier City. The building was not damaged, but flood water hit midway up its cinderblock foundation. Refuge ranger Terri Jacobson says the staff and interns are now working with heavy equipment to get the boat ramp in working order in time for today’s summer camp.

“There are big logs, floating mats of vegetation, mud and gook all over. I’m hoping they’ll get it done today. It’s a pretty big task,” Jacobson said.

Lake Caroline will reopen to boats on Aug. 1. Jacobson says it’s normally closed in June and July for the process of banding wood ducks. She ventured out in a kayak to see where the water went. She says it’s a good time for bird watching.

“We had a pair of mallard ducks, a great egret, green herons and some other birds that took advantage of the flooded waters here. It’s kind of interesting as a biologist and a birdwatcher to see that. But it’s not fun to have your house and your roads flooded,” Jacobson said.

Both Jett and Jacobson are concerned about invasive aquatic plants. Jett says giant salvinia is making a strong comeback on Lake Bistineau, and spraying resumed Monday in an ongoing effort to contain it. Jacobson says the Red River National Wildlife Refuge will begin surveying Lake Caroline for salvinia and other damaging weeds.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.
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