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

Lowland Oaks

May 29, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Oaks were once a major component of Louisiana landscapes. From the highest hills to just one step above cypress brakes, oaks were found in a variety of habitats. Today we'll consider those that grow in lowlands, such as are found in the parishes east of Monroe to the Mississippi River.

Oaks can be divided into two major groups consisting of red oaks and white oaks.

Vicksburg/Loess

May 29, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

The Civil War citadel of Vicksburg fell on July 4, 1863. On that day, Confedearte regiments marched out one at a time and stacked their arms. Of that occasion, General Grant's telegraph operator, Samuel Beckwith wrote, "The trampling of myriads of feet had stirred up a fine, yellow clay dust that coated our garments and filled our eyes and ears and nostrils until it was almost unberable." Like the union soldiers, this dust had origins far to the north of the Vicksburg hills.

Crow Concerns

May 17, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Crows are very intelligent, have fascinating personalities, and when I watch them it's hard for me not to personify their behavior -- as in this case.

Old one-eyed crow danced around the fox lying on the roadside. He knew the miracle was coming. Still warm into death, the fox was about to give up his soul.

Wilderness Store

Mar 19, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Less than three months after Union Parish was carved from Ouachita as a new political entity, William McKay died there intestate leaving a grieving widow and two-year old daughter.  In 1839, Union Parish was essentially wilderness and sparsely populated, the surge of immigration by settlers from eastern states just over the horizon.  McKay owned a store on the Ouachita River, either at what would later be called Alabama Landing or farther south at Ouachita City, or maybe even at the mouth of Bayou de l'Outre.

Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Biologists often just call them herps, an abbreviated version of the term herpetofauna meaning the reptiles and amphibians of a specific region.  The herpetofauna of Louisiana is diverse because of our mild climate that is conducive to the well-being of cold-blooded animals and because of our great variety of habitat types, from upland forests to brackish marshes.

Weather and Wildlife

Feb 19, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Spells of harsh winter weather occasionally disrupt the daily lives of many people in Louisiana.  Technological advancements in the last 100 years, however, minimize the impacts to a short period of inconvenience for most.  Consider the differences now and during the Civil War era as described by a Confederate soldier.

Wildlife Values

Jan 8, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Most Bayou Diversity programs involve wildlife in some form or fashion.  But who places value on wildlife and just how much is wildlife worth these days?  A recent report issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is enlightening.

Bobcats

Jan 1, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

I saw a ghost a while back.  He appeared out of thin air, transformed a peaceful, bucolic scene into murderous chaos, and vanished in seconds.  I loved it.  It was one of the never-to-be-forgotten highlights of my experiences in the natural world.

Wise Ones

Dec 25, 2017
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

We are losing the old wise ones.  Some of our most erudite naturalists never heard a professor's lecture or studied in a biology lab that reeked of formalin and moth balls.  Still, they know the eddies where giant flathead catfish prowl and ridge-top trails of foraging coyotes.

Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Historians agree that the American president with the greatest conservation legacy was Theodore Roosevelt.  Among his many accomplishments in that arena was the protection of millions of acres that became units of the National Forest and National Park systems.  Additionally, he protected another group of lands and waters specifically for their wildlife values.  These became components of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

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