Playing Swamp Tourist.
This was a day of playing tourist in and around Henderson, St. Martin Parish, Breaux Bridge and the Atchafalaya Basin.
My first venture was driving a back roads loop from the campground towards the town of Butte La Rose and then on to Henderson and the freeway back to St. Martin Parish. I would never have guessed how many people live back in these areas. It is certainly not noticeable from the highway, especially when the highway at this location is a raised structure over all the wetlands.
The other interesting features are the levies which parallel the river and circumvent the swamplands. It made my drive a little uneventful, because the levies are high enough that one cannot see over the top when driving. So every once in awhile I’d see what looked like a dirt path or a couple of tire tracks heading up over the levies, and realized – after finally driving up one of those dirt pathways to see what was going on - that these are the driveways to businesses and people’s houses. You can also drive along the top of the levy, but it is all dirt, so if there’s any moisture/rain, the surface looks like it would be very soft and/or slippery.
There is a visitor center just down the street from the campground, so I stopped in there to get some info, and learned of a couple places to go see that I would not have known about otherwise. I’m glad I did, because they were better than the locations I had intended to see.
The primary location – and the one that offered more in the way of swamp like environment – was Lake Martin, a couple miles south of Breaux Bridge. There was also a Nature Conservancy Project at this site called Cypress Island Preserve. The boardwalks in the photos are in this area. The Nature Conservancy describes this area as “9,500 acres in one of the best remaining areas of bottomland hardwood forest in the entire lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley”. (There’s no way I would have been able to describe it that way!).
Lake Martin “is a naturally occurring open body of water within a cypress-tupelo swamp”. There were many other people doing what I was doing today – driving around the lake and taking pictures of the swamp land habitat.
After that, I made an attempt at going into the Indian Bayou – not literally, just driving – but the area was very large – ½ million acres, and was not conducive to my limited time line. Besides that, the gravel and dirt roads were not all that great.
The other location that didn’t work too well was the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area and Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge. This was also a very large area, and after driving 2 or 3 miles into it, nothing really changed, as it was all a forested refuge, so I bagged this one. Perhaps if I had been there earlier in the day, or had more time. However, it was also hunting season, so I didn’t want to get too carried away in my venturing. The other interesting thing was that there was a requirement of completing a vehicle permit when entering – sort of a self exiting mechanism where you left a stub at the entrance, and then when you were leaving the area, you left the other half of the permit, so they could monitor who was in there.
So, tonight I’m working on this and getting ready to head out tomorrow.