Release Date: 02/14/2006

Entergys River Bend Station, with assistance provided by the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program (LNHP), within the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), has designated 550 acres of unique wilderness for preservation as a registered natural area.

The River Bend Natural Area, located within the Tunica Hills in West Feliciana Parish, is part of Louisianas Natural Areas Registry program, a state program designed to recognize landowners who are actively protecting their natural areas.

Entergys Forest Manager Jim Monk, working with LNHP Community Ecologist Patti Faulkner and LNHP Botanist Chris Reid, developed a management plan in 2004 to permanently protect and enhance the property.  The new natural area, located in an ecoregion confined to West Feliciana Parish, contains deeply dissected hills with rich hardwood forests dominated by Southern magnolia, American beech and American holly. 

The unusual topography of the River Bend Natural Area developed on deep, fertile, wind-blown silt called loessial deposits that formed east of the Mississippi River between periods of glaciation from 40,000 to 12,000 years ago.  The loessial deposits have eroded over thousands of years to form a characteristic highly-dissected landscape of high, narrow ridges, steep slopes, deep ravines and intermittent to permanent streams.  Thickness of loessial deposits can vary from two to 30 feet deep and are thickest on the western edge of the bluffs adjacent to the Mississippi River floodplain.  These dissected hills have sustained localized populations of some Appalachian species, primarily herbaceous, thought to have originally migrated south ahead of advancing glaciers in the past ice age. 

Relic populations of numerous species more common in the Appalachian Mountains, Ozarks and areas northward still occur today in the Tunica Hills.  The region is considered to be one of the most species-rich upland hardwood forests in the entire continental United States.  Currently, there are 20 rare state plant species that have the potential to occur within the River Bend Natural Area, including the only known Louisiana locations of wild ginseng and Canada wild ginger.  Additionally, 14 rare state animals are known to occur here such as the rare Websters salamander, the Eastern chipmunk and the timber rattlesnake. 

The Louisiana Natural Areas Registry was created by the Legislature in 1987 and it is maintained by the Natural Heritage Program (LNHP), founded in 1984 through a partnership with the state of Louisiana and The Nature Conservancy.  The Natural Areas Registry enables LDWF to recognize contributions made by Louisiana citizens in protecting our states natural legacy.  The registry program relies on citizen-based conservation and the willingness of landowners to safeguard the best that remains of our natural world.  Today, there are more than 36,000 acres registered by private, industrial and government landowners.

LNHP is also a part of the NatureServe Network.  This network was designed to gather, organize and distribute standardized, detailed information on the biological diversity across all 50 U.S. states, Canada, and parts of Latin America. 

To find information on the Natural Areas Registry, go to the LDWF website at www.wlf.louisiana.gov.  Additionally, for information on NatureServe go to their Web page at www.natureserve.org.  To learn more about Entergys environmental commitments and actions, go to www.entergy.com/our_community/environment.aspx.

EDITORS: For more information on the Natural Areas Registry Program, contact: Judy Jones, Natural Areas Registry Program at 225-765-2822 or naturalareas@wlf.louisiana.gov, or Patti Faulkner, Natural Heritage Program, LA Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries, at 225-765-2975, pfaulkner@wlf.louisiana.gov.  Site photos are available upon request.