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Saline Bayou, Kisatchie National Forest

Emporia State University

Wetland Environments ES 767

James Whittington and Gregory Haines

May 6, 2005

Saline Bayou

Saline Bayou


Saline Bayou is located in North Central Louisiana im the Kisatchie National Forest, Wynn Section. The section of the Saline Bayou located in the Wynn District was designated a Wild and Scenic River by the United States Congress in 1986. This designation was put in place to provide additional protection to this national resource.

Saline Bayou

The protected section of the Saline Bayou is an excellent example of the lowland forested wetlands prevelent in the lower Mississippi Valley.


The Winn District of the Kisatchie National Forest including the protected section of the Saline Bayou. Map courtesy of the US Forest Service.

The Winn District is located approximately 30 miles east of interstat 30. It is less then two hours from Lafayette to the south and Shreveport to the north. The Kisatchie is the only national forest in Louisian.


The Saline Bayou forms the boundary between Natchitoches Parish(pronounced Nak-i-dish, trust me) and Winn Parish.

The Saline Bayou is a tributary of the Red River with headwaters in the Ouchita foothills of Arkansas. Prior to the turn of the twentieth century Saline Bayou meandered through old growth longleaf pine forests and lowland hardwood forests. These forests were among the most commercially important in the world from the late 1800s through the Depression. Prior to World War II, the forests were completely clear cut and abandoned. The low wet areas along the Saline were among the few protected from logging and harbor most the remaining old growth.

Since that time, the Federal government as acquired the lands that became the Kisatchie National Forest. The forests have been restored and are now managed by the US Forest service. While the modern forest has regained the diversity it once held, it is unlikely that the old growth forests will ever be restored.

Flood deposits of the Red River dominate the topography of the region. These quaternary sand and gravel deposits have formed terraces and levees through which the Saline Bayou flows. The rich sandy soils form low ridges, which support the abundant forests. The Saline Bayou has been impounded to form Saline Lake, which has become a recreational center for the region.

Railroad Trestle

Note the railroad trestle through the lush vegetation.

Hardwood Bottom

A typical example of forested bottomland. These woods will typically be composed of Cypress, Sweet Gum, Magnolia, Various Oaks, Longleaf and Loblolly Pine, and Tulip Poplar.

Stained Tributary

A small feeder creek draining into the Saline. Note the dark stained water. These small, slow moving tributaries drain low lying backwaters, this particular one provided an abundance of mosquitoes.

Vernal Pool

One of many small pools that harbor amphibians and insects. While some of these pools are seasonal, there was evidence that many were flooded year round.

Backwater = Mosquitoes!

Another small vernal pool. The absence of fish provides an ideal spawning ground for tadpoles and insect larvae.

emergent vegatation

This is an area of private property located a few hundred feet from the Saline Bayou. During the wet season rain water backs up into theses areas and slowly drains to the Saline. Some of the vegetation indicated that parts (drainage ditches) of this field stayed submerged year round.

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There is an abundance of vegetation located throughout the Louisiana bayou country. The climate and rainfall allow for a long growing season, while the wetlands and frequent flooding preclude most agriculture. The soils are rich with organic materials but well drained due to the sand content further promoting productivity. The bottom lands and wetlands are dominated by cypress and lowland hardwoods. The ridges and uplands are primarily covered by pines. Historically these wood have been longleaf, but forest service replanting has emphasized the faster growing loblolly pine.

Cypress trees

Cypress trees for the dominate canopy within 50 meters of the bayou and flooded backwaters.

More Cypress

Cypress knees seen in a small ox-bow. In addition to stabilizing the bank, the cypress knes provide cover for imature fish and amphibians.

emergent vegatation

Some of these cypress are more then a century old and predate the logging of the early 1900s.


I observed several of the largest magnolia trees I have ever seen along the Saline. This was not one of them.

longleaf pine

The longleaf pine. There are not many places where you can actually see the sky through the canopy.

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With prolific vegetation and year round water supplies combined with seasonal temperatures rarely dipping below freezing nearly every every animal living in the southern US is represented in the Saline Bayou valley. Several species of rare and endangered species make their homes here. Some of these include the Louisiana Pine Snake, The Red Cockaded Woodpecker, and the Bald Eagle. With the recent rediscovery of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker in Arkansas, many feel that the lowland pine forest of Louisiana including Kisatchie could also harbor relic communities of Ivory Bills.


Unidentified turtle sunning itself. This is a very common sight on warm days in early spring. The turtles are very quick to dive and do not give many second chances to be photographed.


The cottonmouth or water moccasin is another common denizen of the bayou. I was unable to get a decent photo of any of them, so this photo is courtesy of the US Forest Service.


Racoon tracks were much more abunadant than racoons during the day.

Pine Snake

The Louisiana Pine Snake is a resident of these woods. They are very rare and under consideration for the endangered species list. This photo is used courtesy of the US Forest Service

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US Forestry service, Kisatchie National Forest

US National Forest Campground Guide

Hunters Guide to the Kisatchie NF

Kisatchie Mushrooms

Satellite Tour of Louisiana

City of Winnfield

Saline Bayou

USGS Data Saline Bayou

Book - Roadside Geology of Louisiana, Darwin Spearing; Mountain Press 1995

Unpublished Thesis - Kisatchie National Forest, Robert L. Williams; 1982

Pamphlet - Saline BAyou National Scenic River; US Forest Service 1993

Special thanks to the staff of the Winn district ranger station of the Kisatchie National Forest for all of the help and information that they cheerfully provided.

All photos by James Whittingto unless otherwise described. All information on this page is the property of Emporia State University, all rights reserved

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