The Corps of Engineers at Wright Patman Lake actively manages approximately 55,000 acres of public forestland. These lands are managed outside park and recreational lands that consists of over 8,000 acres.
Although confronted with many challenges, such as small land-holdings, inadequate access and close neighbors, we strive to keep the health of the forest foremost in any decisions we make concerning activities we conduct in the forest.
Many of our goals in the management of the forestland at Wright Patman Lake are similar to “Ecosystem Management Goals” as defined by Agee and Johnson (1988) and include, maintaining viable populations of native species, representing native ecosystem types across their natural range of variation, maintaining evolutionary and ecological processes (i.e., disturbance regimes, hydrological processes, nutrient cycles, etc.), managing over periods of time long enough to maintain the evolutionary potential of species and ecosystems all while accommodating human use of the forestland.
Examples of vegetation ecosystem types include the shortleaf pine-bluegrass complex of Northeast Texas and Southwest Arkansas, the longleaf pine – wiregrass complex of mid and southeast Texas, the bottomland hardwood forest, and the Post Oak Savanna of the western edge of East Texas.
Both pine-dominated uplands and bottomland hardwood forests exist at Wright Patman Lake. Properly managed, the pine tree dominated ecosystems provide habitat structure for many species including eastern wild turkey, and bobwhite quail, along with lesser know species such as Bachmann’s and Henslow’s sparrows. The bottomland forest provides habitat and food, in the form of acorns, for species such as the eastern gray squirrel and wood ducks. Tools and activities used to accomplish our goals include the use of prescribed fire, occasional selective harvests, inventory, regeneration regimes - both natural and artificial – which include: seed-tree, shelter-wood, and gap-phase (small clear cuts) treatments, and creation of open spaces.
Selective harvests, or “thinnings”, in pine dominated areas allow us to maintain the health of the forest stand by improving individual tree growth and vigor and reducing the prospect of pest infestations. In conjunction with prescribed fire, these harvests help us to lessen the chances of wildfires. Utilizing these “tools” also helps us improve habitat for the species that utilize the particular ecosystem.
During activities, we incorporate design features and practices that are known as “Best Management Practices” or BMPs. BMPs include special management in “Stream-side Management Zones” (SMZs), proper logging road design, and restrictions on when equipment can operate. These efforts help us maintain and protect the quality of water that flows into Wright Patman Lake.
As one can see, there are many things to consider in proper forest management and we attempt to for “your” forest. If you have any questions concerning forest management at Wright Patman Lake, please feel free to contact the Project Forester at the Wright Patman Lake Project Office.
The Corps of Engineers staff at Wright Patman Lake conducts wildlife management activities in the areas of native flood plots, providing and maintaining Wood Duck nesting boxes, Eastern Bluebird nesting boxes, and boxes for native bat species. Many other nesting boxes and structures are maintained for other bird species such as, the Purple Martin and House Wren. The staff also conducts Bald Eagle Surveys, Nightjar Surveys, and manages endangered or threatened species according to the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps of Engineers manages over 98 acres of native plots for White-Talied Deer. Food plots are managed during spring and fall seasons. During the spring season the Corps of Engineers staff manages over 35 acres of food plots, these food plots are managed by seeding, mowing, and discing. During the fall season the staff at Wright Patman manages over 98 acres of food plots, these food plots are managed the same as the spring season. These food plots provide supplemental food resources for White-Talied Deer.
Wood Duck boxes are managed by the staff annually by cleaning all old nesting materials and unwanted species after the nesting season, and placing new nesting material in the boxes in preparation for the next nesting season. All other nesting boxes for other bird species are cleaned out annually, and old boxes are replaced with new boxes.
The staff at Wright Patman is currenty working with local volunteers from the Texarkana Audubon Society to conduct surveys for Endangered and Threatened speices of birds to help Wright Patman Lake establish itself as an Important Bird Area (IBA) with Audubon Texas. This will help preserve sensitive habitats for protected resident and migratory birds that call Wright Patman Lake home. The staff also working local volunteers and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to actively conduct surveys for Endangered and Threatened Reptile and Amphibian species.
Environmental and Invasive Species Control
The Corps of Engineers staff at Wright Patman conducts environmental surveys to control aquatic invasive species that could potentially threaten the natural environment of the lake. The staff keeps a watchful eye for such invasive species as hydrilla, salvinia, giant salvinia, and water hyacinth. As well as other aquatic invasives, such zebra mussels that are not indigenous to local area. ATTENTION ALL ANGLERS VISITING WRIGHT PATMAN LAKE AND DAM BIGHEAD CARP HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED TO BE IN THE WATERS OF THE SULPHUR RIVER BELOW WRIGHT PATMAN DAM. IT IS CRUCIAL THE SURVIVIAL OF ALL NATIVE FISHES THAT THESE INVASIVE SPECIES ARE NOT TAKING LIVE FROM THE LAKE OR SULPHUR RIVER, AND THAT BAIT FISH CAUGHT ON THE SULPHUR RIVER ARE NOT TAKEN LAKESIDE LIVE. PLEASE SEE THE LINKS BELOW TO HELP FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THESE FISHES.
The staff at Wright Patman also maintains a waterfowl observation deck at Elliott Bluff. The observation deck is open year round, is free to the public, and many bird watching individuals and groups utilize the area throughtout the migratory season and other times of the year. The observation deck is also ADA accessible so that everyone that enjoys bird watching can access the area. The observation was constructed in a partnership with the Sulphur River Chapter of Waterfowl U.S.A.