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

Fox Folklore

Dec 11, 2017

While on a late afternoon walk in the bottom north of the house, I heard a commotion in the dry, freshly fallen leaves beyond the creek.  Something was coming my way.  Suddenly, a red fox appeared in mid-air as he leaped across Rocky Branch, barely flowing in the late autumn drought.

Thank you, O Lord, in this bountiful season for the five senses to relish your world.  

Thank you for the succulent smells of the fruits of the earth in the kitchens of our mothers and wives.

Thank you for the odor of rich delta dirt on a warm, foggy winter morning.

Thank you for the smell of wood smoke, especially that tinted with lighter'd pine.

Thank you for the stew of odors distinct to our rivers and bayous: cypress needles, primal water, life and life-to be.

Wilderness

Nov 6, 2017

As a species we humans are infamous for behavior not conducive to our own long-term well-being.  Consider the frequency of wars, the unbridled depletion of earth's finite resources, and the "me now" attitude of our consumptive society.  There are, however, shining examples of far-sightedness in America, even in the halls of Congress.  A prime example is the Wilderness Act of 1964.

Louisiana Hippos

Oct 23, 2017

When it comes to politics, especially in Louisiana, one really can't make some of this stuff up.  Absurd political conduct has a long history in the Bayou State as illustrated by Congressman Robert Broussard's legislation, H.R. 23261, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1910.  The press labeled it the "American Hippo Bill."

Eclipse and Science

Oct 16, 2017

What a glorious event it was, this eclipse of 2017.  With family and friends we gathered in a remote sagebrush meadow along the South Fork of the Payette River in Idaho, a stream fresh from the Sawtooth Wilderness that still carried snowmelt even on this late summer morning.  Our chosen viewing post fell directly in the path of the umbra - the shadow projected when the sun is entirely blocked by the moon.

Fall Colors

Oct 9, 2017

Every autumn a multitude of people in the northern hemisphere contributes billions of dollars to local economies in order to look at brightly colored leaves.  The attraction, when green leaves of hardwood trees turn brilliant shades of yellow, orange, red, and purple, is a result of chemistry pure and simple.  Well - simple to a chemist maybe.

At the turn of the 20th century, the science of wildlife management was in its infancy.  Reeling from the catastrophic human-induced losses of America's iconic fish and wildlife resources such as the vast bison herds and billions of passenger pigeons to market hunters and countless plumed wading birds for the sake of vanity, a growing contingent of citizens began demanding a counteractive response to the wholesale pillage of nature.

Rain Crows

Sep 4, 2017

One definition of the word 'lurk' is to lie in wait in a place of concealment.  Among those birds that spend time along Louisiana bayous, one species in particular can be said to exhibit this behavior as a matter of habit.  Rain crows, often heard but less often seen, are bona fide lurkers as they perch with hunched shoulders that belie a long, graceful neck in a pose that for all the world appears to me an expression of guilt.

Wild critters walk, fly and swim among us Louisiana folks.  While all are interesting, a few are downright strange, or at least strange looking.  The unusual appearance of some animals is often caused by skin aberrations usually linked to genetic abnormalities.

In the dog days of summer after the fresh-split firewood reeking with the sweet acerbity of tannin is stacked in a neat pile close by the house, we become crepuscular.  Like certain amphibians striving to maintain a proper balance of body fluid and temperature, we venture forth into the out-of-doors only in the twilight hours of dawn and dusk, leaving behind our artificial cocoons of refrigerated and dehumidified air.

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