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The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers is the steward of nearly 12 million acres of public lands and waters nationwide. The mission of our program is to manage and conserve natural resources consistent with ecosystem management principles, while providing quality public outdoor recreation experiences to serve the needs of present and future generations. The management of natural resources by utilizing a stewardship concept ensures the conservation, preservation, and protection of Corps land and water resources.
In today's highly altered and intensively managed landscape, the designation of natural areas is an important process in preserving biological diversity indigenous to a region. Additionally,natural areas supply significant recreational opportunities, provide vital wildlife habitat, contribute to the aesthetic quality of a region, conserve our natural heritage, and serve as baseline areas for scientific investigations. The USACE, the LDWF, and the Nature Conservancy entered into a cooperative agreement to manage selected areas containing approximately 3,852 acres as state registered natural areas and environmentally sensitive areas on Bayou Bodcau due to the presence of unique natural resources. The following guidelines are applicable to all the natural areas.
1. Management of these areas will consist of maintaining the unique resources present on each tract with the intent of preserving its natural values.
2. Where streams form natural area boundaries, a 100-foot wide belt of forest on the side of the stream opposite the natural area is considered part of the natural area and hence managed as such.
3. All mineral exploration and removal should be strongly discouraged, and all options should be fully considered. If mineral activities within the natural area are unavoidable, a formal geological review should be requested before permitting the activities. Project sites within natural areas should be restored, as nearly as possible, to a natural condition upon project completion.
4. No livestock grazing is allowed.
5. If beaver populations reach a level considered damaging to the timber resource of natural areas, trapping and removal should be conducted.
6. Every feasible effort should be made to ensure that disease outbreaks external to a natural area is prevented from entering the natural area. Disease and insect control, prescribed burning, and other silvicultural activities will be used as appropriate to achieve this.
7. Intensive development and use is discouraged on these areas. The placement of transmission lines (power lines, pipelines, etc.) or seismic exploration through a natural area due to mineral rights and/or public interest cannot be prohibited. However, the Corps of Engineers has the right to recommend the method of placement or exploration and restoration of the affected area.
8. All natural areas are open to hunting. Walk-in hunting is allowed; however, all other traffic is restricted to existing roads or trails.
Most of the forest area on Bayou Bodcau Reservoir has had little disturbance for many years. In relation to the majority of timberland in the surrounding region, it is in excellent condition. In light of the fact that mature natural forests are critically limited today in Louisiana, the naturally diverse forests of Bodcau are extremely important habitats for a multitude of wildlife and plant species. Bodcau also contains some prime examples of a "Morse Clay Calcareous Prairie". The Natural Heritage Program as part of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Nature Conservancy considers this unique natural community critically imperiled in Louisiana. Natural areas for Bodcau were selected with the objective of protecting some acreage of each identifiable natural habitat or natural community present. The natural communities, as defined by the Louisiana Natural Areas Heritage Program, currently recognized on the area are:
1. Cypress Swamp
2. Bottomland Forest (various phases)
3. Wooded Seep
4. Riparian Forest
5. Morse Clay Calcareous Prairie
6. Calcareous Forest (various phases)
7. Hardwood Slope Forest
8. Short leaf Pine/Oak-Hickory Forest
9. Mixed Hardwood-Loblolly Forest (includes pine/hardwood flat woods)
Shoreline Protection/Streamside Management
Voluntary best management practices are applied during timber harvesting operations. For specifications of streamside BMPs refer to “Louisiana Forestry BMP’s”, a publication from Louisiana Foresters Association and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
Threatened and Endangered Species
Bodcau Wildlife Management Area is included in the nesting and wintering range of the Bald Eagle. Evidence of two nests on the area has been found and numerous eagle sightings during winter months are common. Midwinter Bald Eagle surveys are conducted annually. Resident species considered endangered and threatened include the red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW). Management programs are in place to protect and enhance this species. Two existing areas show evidence of utilization by RCW. Cavity trees were found and birds were seen in the area. There have been no recent sightings but the areas are still intensively managed. The USACE follows the guidelines recommended by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service for proper management techniques.
Natural and recreational resources at Bayou Bodcau Dam and Reservoir provide social, economic and environmental benefits for all Americans. Following are facts related to the Corps' role managing natural and recreational resources at Bayou Bodcau Dam and Reservoir.
||Benefits in Perspective
- 8 recreation areas
- 24 picnic sites
- 40 camping sites
- 1 playgrounds
- 0 swimming areas
- 7 trail miles
- 0 fishing docks
- 3 boat ramps
- 0 marinas
- 0 marina slips
- 150,215 in total
- 22,006 picnickers
- 2,000 campers
- 10,575 swimmers
- 4,461 water skiers
- 24,380 boaters
- 13,189 sightseers
- 51,313 fishermen
- 9,524 hunters
- 66,440 others
By providing opportunities for active recreation, Corps lakes help combat one of the most significant of the nation's health problems: lack of physical activity.
Recreational programs and activities at Corps lakes also help strengthen family ties and friendships; provide opportunities for children to develop personal skills, social values, and self-esteem; and increase water safety.
150,215 visits per year resulted in:
- $3.15 million in visitor spending within 30 miles of the Corps lake.
- 75% of the spending was captured by local economy as direct sales effects.
With multiplier effects, visitor trip spending resulted in:
- $3.99million in total sales.
- $1.68 million in value added (wages & salaries, payroll benefits, profits and rents and indirect business taxes).
- Supported 44 jobs in the local community surrounding the lake.
Benefits in Perspective
The money spent by visitors to Corps lakes on trip expenses adds to the local and national economies by supporting jobs and generating income. Visitor spending represents a sizable component of the economy in many communities around Corps lakes.
- 33,640 land acres
- 820 water acres
- 0 shoreline miles
- 10,652 environmental educational contacts
Benefits in Perspective
Recreation experiences increase motivation to learn more about the environment; understanding and awareness of environmental issues; and sensitivity to the environment.
The primary purpose for the construction of Bayou Bodcau Dam and Reservoir was for flood control. Local flood protection is derived through the substantial protection of 43,000 acres of alluvial bottomlands in the flood plain between the dam site and the limits of Red River backwater area. These areas were predominantly farmlands at the time of dam construction, but due to the population growth of Bossier Parish, most of these lands are now being used for city-wide expansion projects and residential development. Included within this area is an 8,400-acre tract as part of Barksdale Air Force Base. The reservoir is an incorporated unit in the comprehensive plan for flood control on the Red River below Denison, Texas. The drainage area of 656 square miles above the dam site is approximately 57 percent of the total drainage area of the Bayou Bodcau-Red Chute-Flat River Basin. Bayou Bodcau Dam and Reservoir has prevented $11.9 million in damages over its life with $91,000 of that occurring in fy07.
Project features – The dam consists of four major features: the earthfilled embankment (dam), dike, spillway and outlet structure. The dam embankment is constructed of rolled earthfill 8,850 feet in length with a crest elevation of 230.0 feet msl and a crown width of 30 feet. The maximum height above the streambed is 76 feet. The spillway is comprised of a weir, south abutment, north abutment and outlet channel. The spillway’ crest elevation is 219 feet msl and a width of 4000 feet. The outlet structure consists of an approach, an uncontrolled intake, twin conduits, stilling basin with splitter wall, outlet channel and appurtenant drainage systems. The elevation of the bottom of the approach and intake is 157.0 feet msl.
The reservoir formed by these parts is subject to extreme fluctuations. With water levels near 157.0 feet msl, water is retained only in the stream proper. At flood control pool elevation, 199.5 feet, waters detained for flood control purposes will amount to 357,300 acre-feet (a volume equivalent to 10.2 inches of rainfall runoff from the 656 square mile watershed). The reservoir at this point will cover approximately 21,000 acres.
Bayou Bodcau Dam and Reservoir was constructed to provide flood protection for 43,000 acres of alluvial bottomlands in the flood plain between the dam site and the limits of the Red River. These areas were predominantly farmlands at the time of dam construction, but due to the population growth of Bossier Parish, most of these lands are now being used for city-wide expansion projects and residential development. Barksdale Air Force Base is also an important site that is located within this area.
Project Authorization and Purpose – The Flood Control Act approved June 22, 1936 (Public Law 738, 74th Congress), as amended by acts approved June 28, 1938 (Public Law 761, 75 Congress, 3rd session) and June 28, 1939 (Public Law 154, 76th Congress, 1st session) authorized the construction of Bayou Bodcau Reservoir. Construction of Bodcau Dam began in May of 1947 and was completed in December of 1949.
This original congressional authorization was limited to flood control only. Most recent authorization includes multi-purpose functions such as Natural Resource Management, Environmental Stewardship and Public Recreation as well as Flood Damage Reduction.
The region of Bayou Bodcau was inhabited by the Caddo Indians as far back as 5000-6000 years ago. Small Indian villages dotted the landscape. Bayou Bodcau was not only used as a source of water but also an avenue for transportation. Canoes or dugouts were used for travel. By the late 1800’s, the various areas along Bayou Bodcau had thriving communities. Small farms were now scattered throughout the landscape with corn and cotton being the staple crops.
Durden House Past, Present and Future
The Durden House received its name from Newsome Andrew and Elizabeth Rebecca Young Durden and their descendents who inhabited the house and land since 1852. The original log house was destroyed by fire in the 1920’s. The Durden family rebuilt the house in 1925.
Prior to the Durden’s purchase of the house, Mr. E.C. Long owned the house and operated a ferry on Bayou Bodcau. On June 4, 1843, the first meeting of the Bossier Parish Police Jury took place in the log house. At this meeting, the police jurors voted to establish the community of Freedonia (renamed Bellevue) as the parish seat. As the result of this meeting, many of the old-timers considered the original house to be the first courthouse in Bossier Parish.
In the mid-1940’s, the federal government began purchasing land for construction of the Bodcau Dam and Reservoir. Mr. Ben Durden, not wanting to give up his house and 5 acres of land, refused to move. With the construction of the dam underway, a judgment was made in which the government bought the property and gave Mr. Durden a lifetime free lease. This agreement was extended to his children and grandchildren as long as the house was occupied for residential purposes. Once the house and its five acres of land were no longer used as a residence, the property reverted to the federal government.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, recognizing the historical significance of the Durden house site, began plans to utilize the house and land. Renovating the house became a cooperative effort between the Corps of Engineers, the Northwest Louisiana Wildlife and Aquatic Education program and the LDWF. The house is now operated as an environmental education center for northwest Louisiana.
The Durden house can be located by traveling east on I-20 from Bossier City, Louisiana to Exit 33 (Fillmore/Haughton Exit) and then traveling north on Highway 157 approximately 10 miles to the community of Bellevue. Turn right onto the Bodcau Dam Road, travel approximately 3.5 miles and exit to the left side of the dam. Turn left at the stop sign and the house is located at the end of the paved road.
In managing recreation and natural resources, it is often necessary that agencies work together with neighbors and local communities - in everything from wildlife protection and habitat improvement to recreational facility enhancements and customer service. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is no exception to this rule and welcomes the myriad of present and future partners who share common goals and interests in our resources. Many of our most valuable resources, such as endangered species, do not recognize human or property boundaries. Additionally, funding and labor resource shortages affect all levels of government and society. Partnering can avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, pool scarce resources, and promote coordinated, focused, and consistent mutual efforts to resolve common problems and missions.
Day Use Fee Program
At U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas including day use parks and boat launching ramps, a day use fee of up to $4.00 will be assessed recreation users. In most cases, a self-deposit sealable envelope with detachable stub is used for payment of fees. After filling out the envelope, the day use visitor will detach the stub (making sure the date has been filled out) and display the stub on the interior rearview mirror of his/her vehicle. The day use pass authorizes the use of Corps of Engineers day use facilities for the date specified on the envelope and stub. The stub is invalid unless dated.
*Does not apply to Bayou Bodcau, Wallace Lake, J Bennett Johson Waterway or Caddo Lake
Annual Pass Program
If you are a frequent visitor of Corps day use facilities, an annual pass is available for purchase at an area field office, visitor center or through the mail for a price of $30.00. Annual passes are valid at Corps of Engineers recreation areas only; they do not allow entry to campgrounds and may not be used as payment of camping fees.
Since the annual pass program is a national program, passes are accepted at all Corps of Engineers facilities. If you purchase your pass from a lake in Mississippi, your pass will also be valid for payment of day use fees at Corps facilities in all other states or facilities. When purchased, an annual pass is valid for one calendar year from the month of sale. Visitors will receive a plastic hang tag with every annual pass purchase. Along with the annual pass sticker, a second sticker will be issued indicating the month the pass was purchased. Both stickers will be permanently affixed to the hang tag for display on the interior rearview mirror of a vehicle. Duplicate annual passes are no longer available since the new hang tag can be moved between vehicles. However, a second pass may be purchased at full price if so desired.
Holders of America the Beautiful Senior Pass or Access Pass or holders of Golden Age or Golden Access Passport cards may purchase the Corps of Engineers annual pass at a 50 percent discount provided they purchase the pass in person.
The mission of the Corps of Engineers Regulatory Program is to protect the Nation’s aquatic resources, while allowing reasonable development by federal, state and local agencies, special interest groups, and private citizens through a fair and balanced permit program. The Corps’ decision-making process considers the interests of all parties and results in decisions that are fair and equitable and that allow for the reasonable use of private property, business development and economic growth. At the same time, these decisions must neutralize the impacts of proposed work in order to protect the waters of the United States.
A permit is NOT issued or valid until signed by the lake Resource Manager.
Visitors can reach some of the most beautiful pristine areas along Bayou Bodcau by small boat or canoe. Towering, wide spreading hardwoods, moss laden Bald Cypress trees and dwarfed, twisted Swamp Privet shade the waters. Fishermen may launch bass boats on some of the boat ramps; however, smaller bateau (Jon) boats and pirogues are favored due to the Bayou’s shallow water and sometimes narrow passages.
Ivan Lake is a 520 acre water body that is considered one of the most scenic lakes in the area. This is a favorite spot for bass, crappie and bream fishing. Larger bass boats can be easily launched on its concrete boat ramp.
Concrete boat ramps are located at South Abutment East Recreation area, Ivan Lake, Highway 160 bridge, Highway 2 bridge and Wenks Landing Recreation Area. Rock boat ramps can be accessed at Tom Merrill picnic area, Duck Dam Road, Corner of the Old Field Road, Crow Lake Recreation Area, Rainey Wells Recreation Area, and Teague Lake Primitive camping area. Slide in launches can also be accessed at Tom Merril Recreation Area and most of the primitive camping areas such as Della Field and at the end of the Bodcau Road. The Bossier Parish Police Jury and the Wild Turkey Federation added a new parking area and rock boat ramp on Bayou Bodcau. It is located just west of Springhill, Louisiana on the Highway.
At Bayou Bodcau, one of our most popular outdoor activities is camping. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages several campgrounds along the length of its Bayou. Campsites range from being primitive with no campsite amenities, to class A campsites with water and electric hook-ups. Basic campsite amenities include a picnic table, lantern post, fire ring, trash can and a grill. Park Rangers register incoming campers, provide visitor assistance and ensure the campgrounds are operated to provide the safest, most enjoyable experience for all visitors. Please camp in designated areas only.
For camping information call:
Corps of Engineers 318-949-1804
Day Use picnic facilities are located at South Abutment East Recreation Area, Wenks Landing Recreation Area and Tom Merrill Recreation Area. A picnic shelter is available in the Tom Merrill Recreation Area. Shelter reservations may be made by calling (318) 949-1804. A playground is also located here. There are no designated swimming areas on Bayou Bodcau.
Bayou Bodcau Dam and Reservoir offers visitors an abundance of fishing opportunities. Visitors can catch their limit of Black Bass, Spotted Bass, Crappie, Catfish and various species of bream and sunfish. The Bayou is also home to various commercial fish species such as Buffalo, Carp, Gar, and Bowfin. Depending on the seasonal fluctuations in water levels, crawfish may also be caught in fair amounts.
Bayou Bodcau Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is approximately 32,471 acres and is managed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The area contains a wide range of wildlife habitat ranging from cypress swamps to upland pine and hardwood forests interspersed with grasslands and open fields. The area also contains flooded sloughs, beaver ponds, and large areas of bottomland hardwood forests that benefit many species of waterfowl and neotropical migrants throughout the winter and spring. One unique feature of the area is that the bottomland forests rapidly merges with the upland forests on a series of ridges that extend into the bottomland areas. Dominant tree species in the bottomland forests include bald cypress, water oak, overcup oak, willow oak and cow oaks. Shortleaf pine, Loblolly pine and a wide variety of mast producing hardwood species dominate the upland forests.
Bayou Bodcau WMA, being so diverse in habitat allows many opportunities for consumptive and non-consumptive users year round. Intensive habitat management on the WMA including prescribed burning, fallow disking, food plots and timber harvests helps to provide quality habitat for game and non-game species. LDWF and the Corps of Engineers plant and/or maintain approximately 400 acres of wildlife openings and food plots for many species of wildlife. White-tailed deer is one thriving species on the area that can be hunted from October through January. The deer herd is considered healthy. Wild hogs are found all over the area. Every year, the LDWF floods about 1,500 acres of greentree reservoir and sloughs for migrating waterfowl such as wood duck, mallard, gadwall, and hooded merganser and other bottomland avian species. Squirrel, rabbits, dove, quail and other species of small game hunting opportunities exist. Wild turkey hunting is also allowed during a short spring gobbler season.
For the non-consumptive users, bird watching is a common recreational activity with the opportunity to observe non-game species such as great blue herons, several species of hawks, and owls. Yellow, black and white, yellow-throated, magnolia, prairie and yellow-rumped warblers are birds regularly seen on the area. Numerous species of reptiles, amphibian and insects can also be studied.
The LDWF operates a free rifle range on the area. The range is 200 yards long and has covered rests for shooting. The range can accommodate rifles, handguns, shot guns and archery. It is supervised by an approved Range Officer and is open to the public on regularly scheduled days. Targets, sand bags and ear plugs are provided.
The Army Corps of Engineers is the steward of the lands and waters at Corps water resources projects. Its Natural Resource Management Mission is to manage and conserve those natural resources, consistent with ecosystem management principles, while providing quality public outdoor recreation experiences to serve the needs of present and future generations.
In all aspects of natural and cultural resources management, the Corps promotes awareness of environmental values and adheres to sound environmental stewardship, protection, compliance and restoration practices. The Corps manages for long-term public access to, and use of, the natural resources in cooperation with other Federal, State, and local agencies as well as the private sector.
The Corps integrates the management of diverse natural resource components such as fish, wildlife, forests, wetlands, grasslands, soil, air, and water with the provision of public recreation opportunities. The Corps conserves natural resources and provides public recreation opportunities that contribute to the quality of American life.
Long Term Objective of Natural Resource Management on Bayou Bodcau Dam and Reservoir.
A diversity of vegetation and habitat types exists at Bayou Bodcau. The interspersed forest, agricultural, fallow agricultural lands, and aquatic resources provide adequate, reasonably productive habitat for wildlife and fish species. Wildlife resources are managed in accordance with The Fish & Wildlife Coordination Act (P.L. 85- 624) and Project Operation- Management of Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation at Civil Water Resources Projects (ER 1130-2-400) whereby resources are utilized in a multiple use concept for future generations to enjoy their natural heritage. Non-consumptive management practices will receive equal consideration with practices for consumptive game and fish management.
Bayou Bodcau Dam & Reservoir timberlands are managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in accordance with Public Law 86-717. The law states that project lands “shall be developed and maintained so as to encourage, promote, and assure fully adequate and dependable future resources of readily available timber through sustained yield programs, reforestation, and accepted conservation practices, and to increase the value of such areas for conservation, recreation, and other beneficial uses compatible with other uses of the projects. Project lands will also provide for the protection and development of forest or other vegetative cover and the establishment and maintenance of other conservation measures so as to yield the maximum benefit and otherwise improve such areas.”
White-tailed Deer: Bodcau WMA supports a moderate to high population of White-tailed Deer. Deer browse surveys indicate a population that is optimal to timber management and hunting. Deer habitat is enhanced by planting food plots, conducting timber thinning, prescribed burning, wildlife opening maintenance and reforestation. Herd dynamics and health is monitored through periodic sampling, bag checks and annual surveys.
Eastern Wild Turkey: LDWF has made major efforts to re-establish the Eastern Wild Turkey. Efforts in the1960’s and 1970’s brought only short-term success due to low stocking numbers. In 1985 a major restocking effort released 73 wild turkeys on and adjacent to Bodcau Wildlife Management Area. Turkey populations were allowed to increase until the first hunting season in 1991. Presently, the population of approximately 250 Eastern Wild Turkeys is stable or increasing. It is not uncommon to see late winter flocks containing more than 25 birds.
Turkey hunting is allowed in the spring (March/April). Hunting efforts are monitored through a self clearing permit system and are restricted to two gobblers per season. Periodic flooding in the reservoir area hampers turkey population growth. Flooding destroys nests, covers valuable habitat and concentrates predators. Over 3,000 acres of intensively managed turkey habitat was destroyed by a tornado on April 23, 2000. Efforts are being made to improve nesting and brood habitat by maintaining food plots, natural openings, and travel corridors. Control burning and chemicals are used to enhance and maintain favorable year round habitat. The National Wild Turkey Federation provides funds to USACE and LDWF to offset the cost of these projects.
Squirrels: Bodcau WMA contains the largest tract of publicly owned hardwood and mixed upland pine/hardwood forest in Northwest Louisiana It supports excellent gray and fox squirrel populations. Squirrel numbers do fluctuate within the normal population cycles. However, even during years when squirrel populations are down, Bodcau WMA still provides excellent squirrel hunting opportunities due to the large amount of squirrel habitat. Hunting is allowed during the entire statewide squirrel season. In an attempt to feature the area as a small game hunting area the modern firearm season for deer has been reduced. It is hoped that the opportunity to squirrel hunt without interference from deer hunters will encourage small game hunting and introduce more youngsters to hunting. The area is also open to hunters choosing to pursue squirrels with dogs. This traditional form of hunting is offered for several weeks in mid-winter. Rabbits: Populations of swamp and cottontail rabbits inhabit Bodcau WMA. Rabbit populations fluctuate within the normal population cycles. The field areas provide excellent opportunities to hunt rabbits, in particular cottontails, with beagles during the hunting season.
Construction of a green tree reservoir makes the impounding of water possible on approximately 1,300 acres of bottomlands near the southern portion of the area. Waterfowl use can be high in years of good acorn production with a variety of duck/waterfowl utilizing the area. The entire area is open to waterfowl hunting. This is one of the largest green-tree reservoirs open to the public. Waterfowl nesting boxes are maintained to enhance resident wood duck populations. Wood ducks or other animals that depend upon tree cavities for protection or reproduction readily accept these boxes. If properly constructed and well erected, they will increase resident wood duck populations since predation, accidents, and deaths due to weather are reduced. Erection of boxes occurs November through January along with annual maintenance.
Upland Game Birds
Quail: The existence of numerous food plots and openings provides quality quail habitat. In addition, the merging of modified timber management practices in the upland forest with management of the fields also provides numerous acres of quail habitat. (Bayou Bodcau offers a bird dog training area that is located on Bodcau Dam Road at the spillway).
The existence of numerous food plots and openings provides quality quail habitat. In addition, the merging of modified timber management practices in the upland forest with management of the fields also provides numerous acres of quail habitat. (Bayou Bodcau offers a bird dog training area that is located on Bodcau Dam Road at the spillway).
Ongoing habitat management and development in the area will continue to provide highly diversified habitat for non-game species. Habitat management plans developed by LDWF personnel will continue to provide wetlands, bottomland hardwoods, upland forests, fallow and early succession stage fields and planted food plots for quality habitat.
There are two nature trails at Bayou Bodcau. The Durden Hills Nature trail, located near Tom Merrill and South Abutment East Recreation Areas, is a 7 mile hiking/biking trail with many loops and switchbacks. This marked trail offers visitors a challenging experience. The John Haygood Nature Trail is located near the Durden House Environmental Education Center and consists of a ¾ mile paved trail.
The quiet, natural setting of Bayou Bodcau Dam and Reservoir makes hiking, biking and horseback riding a popular pastime. There are over 50 miles of marked trails and one designated primitive horse camp available.