Zachary Richard creates ad promoting whooping cranes _lowres

Whooping cranes at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area are shown in this December 2014 file photo.

The White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area is a vast marshland south of Gueydan in Vermilion Parish. It is one of the gems in the state’s Sportsman’s Paradise crown.

Now that the waterfowl seasons are coming to an end, state Wildlife and Fisheries folks are providing opportunities to access this WCA’s 71,000 acres.

First, for fishermen, there’s a Feb. 15 deadline for submitting applications into a lottery drawing for 100 March 15-Aug. 15 fishing permits. Fishing areas will be restricted, and anyone drawn will be provided with a map of the “fishing” areas. Boats will be limited to 40 horsepower outboards.

Applications (only one per person) are available from state Wildlife and Fisheries headquarters and regional offices and from the LDWF’s website: wlf.louisiana.gov/refuge/lottery-applications. You must sent a $5 check or money order with the application, which can be mailed to: Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries, Room 418, 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, Attn: White Lake Fishing.

If drawn, the permit will cost $40.

For more details, call (225) 765-2812.

And, the LDWF is opening White Lake’s lodge and other facilities for public use from now through May 31, but note profit or commercial activities are prohibited. Access is by boat.

Fees are based on day-use, overnight stays and level of services required by each group.

Guided tours are available and the area is provides birding, nature photography, ecosystem and environmental study of freshwater marshes and coastal prairies with staff biologists. The WCA is home to whooping crane restoring efforts, and the lodge can be used for what the LDWF calls “small business retreats.”

Schedule and fees are posted on the LDWF’s website: wlf.louisiana.gov/other-public-uses-and-nature-trips-2019. There are exemptions for local, state and federal agencies, university research, or educational activities.

For more, call Wayne Sweeney at (337) 536-9400, Ext. 1 or email: wsweeney@wlf.la.gov.

Joe Macaluso