Kisatchie National Forest

Kisatchie National Forest, the only national forest in Louisiana, is located in the state's old growth piney hills and hardwood bottoms of seven central and northern parishes. It totals more than 604,000 acres (2,440 km²) of public lands.

The forest was designated in 1930 during the administration of U.S. President Herbert Hoover, based on efforts of the Louisiana Forestry Department and its botanist and preservationist Caroline Dormon of Natchitoches Parish.

Kisatchie National Forest provides opportunity for many kinds of recreation activities including: all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use, backpacking, boating, camping, cycling, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking, picnicing and swimming. The forest offers more than 40 developed recreation sites and over 100 miles (160 km) of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.

Headquartered in Pineville, Kisatchie National Forest operates five ranger districts in the [North Louisiana|north-central] area of the state: Calcasieu, Caney, Catahoula, Kisatchie and Winn. The forest lies in parts of seven parishes. In descending order of land area within the forest they are Grant, Natchitoches, Winn, Rapides, Vernon, Claiborne, and Webster parishes.

The Calcasieu Ranger district

The Calcasieu Ranger district is the southern most district, located between Alexandria, Louisiana, Leesville, Louisiana and DeRidder. The district features Lakes Kincaid and Valentine, as well as the Wild Azalea National Recreation Trail. The Calcasieu's Vernon Unit is frequently utilized by neighboring Fort Polk for training. The Evangeline Unit of the Calcasieu Ranger District also encompasses the remains of Camp Claiborne, a U.S. Army post during World War II. At it's peak, Camp Claiborne was the largest military installation in the United States. Today, part of the old camp is used as a U.S. Air Force bombing range.

*Other areas include The Kincaid Lake Day-Use Area, the Kincaid Lake Group-Use Area, the Valentine Lake Day-Use Areas, Valentine Lake Group-Use Area, The Bayou Beouf Research Natural Area, and Castor Creek Scenic Area.

*Campgrounds inclide: Three Campgrounds at Kincaid Lake, two campgrounds at Valentine Lake, the Claiborne Trails Camp, the Evangeline Camp, the Amus Melder Camp and the Boy Scout Camp.

*Trails include: The Wild Azalea National Recreation Trail, the Claiborne Trails, the Kincaid Lake Trails, the Valentine Lake Trail, the Lamotte Creek Trail, the Ouiski Chitto Creek Recreation Trail and the Indian Ridge Trail.

The Caney Ranger district

The Caney Ranger district is located northeast of Shreveport near the Arkansas state line. It boasts the Sugar Cane National Recreation Trail along with Caney lake and Corney Lakes. The Caney Ranger District, unlike the rest of the Kisatchie National Forest, began its life in the hands of the Depression-era Resettlement Administration, which bought up marginal upland farmland. The Caney was not turned over to the Forest Service until 1959.

The Catahoula Ranger district

The Catahoula Ranger district is located north of Pineville. The district features Stuart Lake Recreation Complex; hiking and biking along the Glenn Emery Trail; the original Louisiana State University site in Pineville; hunting in the National Catahoula Wildlife Management Preserve; and two ATV trails at located in old Camp Livingston. The remains of Camp Livingston, a World War II-era U.S. Army installation, lie almost completely in the Catahoula Ranger District. Livingston was one of the Army's large training facilities and was at the epicenter of the famed Louisiana Maneuvers. The "Maneuvers," two large war games which took place over the summers of 1940 and 1941, played a key role in the preparation of the U.S. military for World War II combat.

The Kisatchie Ranger district

The Kisatchie Ranger district is located between Leesville and Natchitoches. The district includes the sandstone bluffs of the Longleaf Vista Recreation Area; the white sandy beaches and rocky rapids at Kisatchie Bayou Recreation Area; a wilderness challenge in the nationally designated Kisatchie Hills Wilderness; the convert|17|mi|km|sing=on Longleaf Trail Scenic Byway; an ATV trail on the Sandstone Multi-Use Trail; and the Caroline Dormon Horse Trail. In 2007, the Kisatchie Ranger District was singled out for a special Secretary of Agriculture award for heroism for actions relating to a 100-year flood that swept through the district.

The Winn Ranger District

The Winn Ranger District encompasses convert|164000|acre|km2 of Winn Parish, Natchitoches Parish, and Grant Parish in North Louisiana. It is in close proximity to the Winnfield, Louisiana area. Because of this close proximity, the Winn Ranger District and the Catahoula National Wildlife Management Preserve has become a very popular destination for hunters during hunting season.

Gum Springs Recreation Area located in an area of hilly terrain and natural springs, Gum Springs Recreation Complex exhibits recreation design and construction from the Civilian Conservation Corps era of the 1930s. Gum Springs campground offers basic recreation opportunities of picnicking and camping, and is close to Gum Springs Horse Camp and Trail. The area is being expanded.

Cloud Crossing Recreation Complex lies directly on the banks of Saline Bayou and is an ideal put-in / take-out point for boating or canoeing.Approximately convert|21|mi|km of Saline Bayou was designated a National Wild and Scenic River because of its unique qualities. It is a peaceful setting, where bald cypress and other hardwoods growing along the banks are often reflected in the bayou's quiet water.

Dogwood Interpretive Trail was sponsored by the ARRP and has a short for hiking trail.

The Kisatchie National Forest Heritage program

The Kisatchie National Forest Heritage program is responsible for protecting archaeological sites and historic structures on the forest, including several Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) structures dating to the 1930s and 1940's such as Gum Springs Recreation Area. The Heritage program is staffed by four talented district heritage personnel (archaeologists) and a forest heritage program manager.

External links

* [ Kisatchie National Forest, federal website]
* [ Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries]

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