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Fences

Ouchley
K. Ouchley
/

About a hundred yards north of my house in the dense woods, the remnants of an old fence can be seen running north-south over a sandy-clay hill on the edge of D'Arbonne Swamp. The forest looks the same on both sides of the rusty wire now, but it once enclosed a ten-acre field where my father chopped cotton as  a teenager. When boll weevils, armyworms, and worn out soil forced Union Parish hill-country cotton farmers to seek work in paper mills, chemical plants, and on pipelines, the field reverted to forest through natural plant succession.

 

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.
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