Lots of summer activities going on at refuge

Published 1:41 am Sunday, June 14, 2009

NATCHEZ — Summer is bringing activity at St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge.

Construction began in the spring on a new office that should be competed by mid to late summer.

The refuge also added Chris Swanson as assistant refuge manager, along with three biological interns, a youth conservation corps leader and four YCC student workers.

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The interns and student workers are helping with biological surveys, invasive species control and a host of maintenance projects.

The Mississippi River flood stage was reported at 49.2 feet on June 10 and is forecasted to drop nearly a foot per day for the next week.

Most of the refuge roads remain closed due to flooding. A few reports of people catching fish are starting to be received and fishing success should increase as the river falls.

Fishermen can hand-launch boats from Butler Lake Road and other access points.

On the Sibley unit, motorized boats are only allowed in Gilliard Lake, south of the Ring Levee, and in Swamp Lake once the water recedes from Swamp Lake Road.

Gilliard Lake Road will remain closed until the river falls below 34 feet, and the Butler Lake boat launch will not be accessible until after the river falls below 30 feet.

Refuge staff have been conducting bird surveys on the refuge and have seen or heard about 70 species over the past two weeks.

A species listing can be found online at ebird.org, then search for St. Catherine Creek NWR.

The refuge hopes to have a link to the list on its home page soon.

The wood storks have not been seen yet, and it is expected to be another month before they arrive.

The refuge is sponsoring another bird walk from 7 to 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Anyone interested should meet at the refuge office. The event is casual and participants are welcome to come and go as their schedules permit.