Kelby Ouchley

Kelby was a biologist and manager of National Wildlife Refuges for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 30 years. He has worked with alligators in gulf coast marshes and Canada geese on Hudson Bay tundra. His most recent project was working with his brother Keith of the Louisiana Nature Conservancy on the largest floodplain restoration project in the Mississippi River Basin at the Mollicy Unit of the Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge, reconnecting twenty-five square miles of former floodplain forest back to the Ouachita River.

Kelby was instrumental in the the establishment of Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge and its development as a premier environmental education site. Kelby has an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University.

In 2011 he collected his essays that have aired on KEDM into the book Bayou-Diversity: Nature and People in the Louisiana Bayou Country. He is also the author of Flora and Fauna of the Civil War: an Environmental Reference Guide, Iron Branch: A Civil War Tale of a Woman In BetweenAmerican Alligator – Ancient Predator in the Modern World as well as many scientific and popular articles. Among other honors Kelby recently received the National Wildlife Federation Governor's Conservationist of the Year Award.

He and his wife Amy live in the woods near Rocky Branch, Louisiana, in a cypress house surrounded by white oaks and black hickories. Kelby's website is bayou-diversity.com.

Ways to Connect

Pawpaws

3 hours ago
Anna Hesser / Flickr.com https://tinyurl.com/m5qtlj5

During one of the earliest European explorations of interior North America in 1541 Hernando de Soto's scribes wrote of a particular tropical-like fruit that was being cultivated by Native Americans. When President Thomas Jefferson sent William Dunbar and George Hunter to explore the Ouachita River in 1804, Hunter recorded a small Bayou named after this plant that entered the river on the east side about a league above the mouth of Bayou Bartholomew.

Conservation Ethics

Apr 17, 2017
Woody Hibbard / Flickr.com http://tinyurl.com/m4htyt9

My boyhood in Louisiana was immersed in a culture where conservation ethic did not exist in the general populace. The notion was that wildlife was there for the taking, not unlike blackberries or mayhaws in the swamp. As a carryover of attitude about natural resources since Europeans arrived in North America, it was a lingering remnant of 19th century arrogance defined as Manifest Destiny. State of affairs was exacerbated by the legal system hobbled with weak statutes and one that did not take violations of natural resource laws, including fish and wildlife regulations, seriously anyway.

Those Sensual Plants

Apr 10, 2017

Does your magnolia tree in the front yard have feelings?  How about the Better Boy tomato plants that you pinched the suckers from yesterday?  In order to evoke feelings it is necessary to capture some sort of stimuli from our surroundings, and for that to happen we need sensory receptors.

Carolina Wren

Apr 3, 2017

Though mates for life, for much of the year they sleep on opposite sides of our house in the woods.  One we call the east wren.  This is the male.  The west wren is the female that sometimes roosts above the front door or in a wind chime that she often rings on a dead calm evening seemingly for her own amusement.

Louisiana Ferries

Mar 27, 2017

Louisiana's bayous and rivers have long been considered blessings and banes, depending on one's preferred mode of transportation.  In a land laced with aquatic arteries, streams were the only practical means of conveyance for centuries.  Only when colonial authorities began planning a system of roads to facilitate European settlement and economic development did the waterways become appreciated as substantial barriers to progress.

Swamp Sleep

Mar 20, 2017

Swamps sleep naked and are slow to awaken.  Long after green-up in the uplands, deep overflow swamps that sustain Louisiana bayous and rivers remain quiescent, prolonging winter dormancy until the threat of natural spring flooding has past.

It can't be spoken in soft words for there is no other way to put it.  Whether you are for it or against it, the recent sea change in American politics has led to an all-out assault on this country's long-held environmental policies and laws.  Barring effective pushback, a future of drastic change seems certain for our biotic natural resources.

Spotted Bass

Jan 23, 2017

Always in late February when the first white crawfish reached two inches in length, a ritual began in the D'Arbonne Swamp that included my father, his cousin, and me, an adolescent youth in those years a half century ago.  The object of the tradition was to procure "smallmouth bass" for the deep, black skillet.

 

Attitudes

Jan 16, 2017

Since the founding of America, attitudes toward nature have changed and they continue to do so.  Early pioneers maintained a European mind-set, considering nature an entity to be conquered, civilized and rid of competing wild beasts as necessary.  The theory of manifest destiny reflected a theological belief that settlers were divinely appointed to "use" the earth for the enhancement of civilization, no holds barred.  Such attitudes eventually led to the decimation of Native Americans and the extinction or near extinction of several animals.

 

Carolina Parakeet

Jan 9, 2017

They were thought of as noisy mobs of rogues hell-bent on destruction.  They swarmed the grain fields and orchards of European settlers consuming the fruits of hard labor.  If they possessed redeeming qualities it was only after they were dead and skinned, either for decoration on women's hats or fried in lard for the table.  Linnaeus named them Carolina parakeets in 1758, and within that group there was a subspecies with slightly different colored plumage called the Louisiana parakeet.

 

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