LAKE RAMSAY SAVANNAH
DESCRIPTION: Lake Ramsay Savannah is a special conservation area located in St. Tammany Parish, about 7 miles northwest of Covington, Louisiana. The site is owned by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The Department’s Lake Ramsay Wildlife Management Area (WMA) comprises 796 acres and TNC’s adjacent Lake Ramsay Wetland Preserve contains 504 acres (see map). The properties were acquired between 1992 and 2002 respectively.
Both Lake Ramsay WMA and Lake Ramsay Wetland Preserve were established to conserve one of the best-remaining high quality pine wetlands in St. Tammany Parish. The most abundant habitat type at Lake Ramsay is longleaf pine flatwood savannah. Longleaf pine savannahs are very special natural wetlands indigenous to the outer coastal plain of the southeastern U.S. They are lightly forested grasslands characterized by a sparse longleaf pine overstory and a tremendous variety of herbaceous plants in the ground-cover. Among the numerous species of grasses and wildflowers are insect-eating plants, native orchids, lilies, and other distinctive flora. Other natural plant communities present at Lake Ramsay include longleaf pine flatwoods, bayhead forests and depressions, mixed hardwood-loblolly pine forest, and small river floodplain forest.
Longleaf forests and savannahs have been greatly reduced in acreage throughout the southeast and are of great conservation importance. Numerous rare and uncommon species are characteristic of these habitats. Lake Ramsay Savannah supports at least 24 species of rare plants, including parrot pitcher plant, yellow butterwort, pale and many-flowered grass-pink orchids, and coastal plain false-foxglove. Two animal species of conservation concern are present and include Bachman’s and Henslow’s Sparrows. A variety of other wildlife is present at Lake Ramsay, such as wild turkey, bobwhite quail, otter, white-tailed deer, gray squirrel, Bachman’s fox squirrel and woodcock.
Lake Ramsay Savannah supports over one mile of river-frontage along the beautiful Tchefuncte River, a state scenic stream. The variety of wetland habitats present at Lake Ramsay provides important watershed values to the surrounding area.
MANAGEMENT: The primary management objective at Lake Ramsay Savannah is to restore, conserve, and perpetuate all natural habitats and species indigenous to the area, while secondarily accommodating a range of compatible public-use activities. A primary management tool at Lake Ramsay is the judicious use of control fire. In presettlement times, the open character of longleaf pine savannahs was mainly due to frequent natural lightning-caused surface fires that swept the landscape and prevented invasion by other woody plants. This habitat evolved over millennia with fire, which provided many benefits such as releasing nutrients in the soil, stimulating flowering and fruiting, exposing of mineral soil for seed germination, control of brown-spot needle blight, and other benefits. Fire-maintained longleaf pine savannahs are open, park-like, scenic vistas of grasses, sedges, wildflowers, pines and wildlife.
The Conservancy will use planned, managed fires to restore and maintain healthy ecosystems and the wildlife that depend upon them, and reduce the potential for devastating wildfire. The Conservancy will conduct burns only under suitable moisture and other weather conditions that provide for a safe, responsible control burn.
The natural fire regime for Southern longleaf pine forests is characterized by low intensity surface fires that occur every 2-3 years. These fires maintained low fuel loads and healthy, open longleaf savannas by killing competing hardwoods and shrubs and favoring grasses to create open park-like stands that support a great diversity of plants and animals. These plants and animals are adapted to fire and benefit from the habitat it creates. Wildlife seeks cover or temporarily leave the area for the duration of the fire.
Carefully planned and applied prescribed fire will:
*enhance biological diversity of longleaf pine habitats *reduce the threat of unmanageable, high intensity wildfire *return the fire regime to controlled, low intensity burning *help protect neighboring homes
Please excuse our smoke!
During the burns, smoke may, at times, drift into the area. We regret this temporary inconvenience. In the end, these prescribed burns will help protect the entire area from future disastrous wildfire.
If you observe smoke or fire at Lake Ramsay Preserve or WMA call the Office of Forestry (504-893-6212) or your local fire department to determine if prescribed burns are being conducted.
Many types of non-consumptive and consumptive uses are permissible at Lake Ramsay Savannah, such as hiking, hunting and fishing (on the WMA only), photography, wildlife viewing, and research and education. Specific hunting regulations for the area will be set annually prior to the opening of hunting season. Camping is not allowed on the area and access by the public is by walk-in only (no four wheelers or ATV’s). One developed nature trail has been established off of Horse Branch Road, however, the open character of the land lends itself to hiking. This scenic trail highlights longleaf pine savannah and flatwoods, as well as mixed-hardwood loblolly pine / bayhead forest along Horse Branch.
The Nature Conservancy and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Natural Heritage Program occasionally lead field trips in the area. For more information, contact The Nature Conservancy at 504-809-1414 or LDWF at 225-765-2821 (Natural Heritage Program) or 225-765-2348 (Wildlife Division). For game violations, call LDWF at
1-800-442-2511 (Operation Game Thief).
The following is additional information regarding public use:
While the primary objective for the area is conservation of natural habitats and native species, the following types of public use are permissible on the area:
Hunting and Fishing -- WMA portion only!
Some Public-Use Regulations: *Camping is prohibited *All forms of public use will be by walk-in only as no roads or trails are open to vehicles other than for management purposes. *ATV’s are expressly prohibited from the area *Horseback riding is expressly prohibited *No public use activity, including research, shall be allowed that may cause problems for native rare species or other species of concern *All general regulations that apply to other LDWF WMA's apply to Lake Ramsay Savannah WMA *There shall be no collecting of any natural material (living or non-living) without explicit permission of LDWF or The Nature Conservancy.
A designated hiking trail with informative signs is in place on the southern portion of the TNC preserve. The trail begins at a TNC parking lot along Horse Branch Road, south of Lake Ramsay Road about 1.5 miles.
Research projects are strongly encouraged, particularly projects that will add to the understanding of the species and habitats present and will facilitate improved management. All any such projects will be designed and conducted through consultation with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and The Nature Conservancy.
Educational institutions and groups, such as schools and universities, scout troops, church groups, etc., may use the area for environmental study/education by coordination with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries/TNC.