Children run along a kids' trail at Burden Museum & Gardens. AgCenter file photo.
If you’ve pledged to focus on your health in the new year, exercise your mind and body in the great outdoors! Here are some ideas for 2022:
- Visit the Kisatchie National Forest (www.fs.usda.gov/kisatchie); a state wildlife management area, refuge, or conservation area (www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/wmas-refuges-and-conservation-areas); one of Louisiana’s national wildlife refuges (www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/ByState.cfm?state=LA); or a local park. Be sure to take along your tree and wildflower guides or download an app for your mobile device to help you identify the beautiful native plants that are found throughout the forest. Search for publication No. 3662 on the LSU AgCenter website (www.lsuagcenter.com) for a list of nature guides you can download.
- Grab your fishing pole and head out to your favorite spot. If you are hauling a boat, be sure to check your trailer for rust and weak spots, and make sure that your wheels, lights and hitch are working properly. You can find more information on boat trailer maintenance on the LSU AgCenter website by searching for publication No. 2557.
- Celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree on your property, volunteering with a local tree-planting organization, visiting a botanical garden or arboretum, or taking a nature walk.
- Learn how to identify and control for invasive species in the state, then manage for these species on your own property or assist with local efforts. Louisiana is home to a plethora of nonnative plants and animals that cause substantial ecological and economic damage to our natural resources each year. Examples include feral pigs, water hyacinth, nutria, cogongrass, Chinese tallow and apple snails. Any contribution to removal helps, and regardless of which species you focus on, you will be sure to get plenty of exercise while you’re at it!
- Step out at night to do a little stargazing. If you’d like a guided tour of our night sky, many of our state’s universities have observatories with public events, or you can contact your local astronomical society for their monthly viewing schedule. If you prefer to look for stars and planets on your own and you have internet access, check out an interactive night sky map, which will tell you what is visible in the night sky at your location and help you track its movements across the sky. No internet? No problem. Grab a book from your local library and enjoy!
- Start planning for your warm-season food plots. While most warm-season plantings for deer occur between April and June, early spring is a great time to get a head start examining the natural conditions of your habitat, identifying a good location for your plots, testing and prepping your soil, and deciding which species to plant. While you are out on the land, be sure to record your wildlife observations so that you can identify and track any changes that occur in response to your plantings over time.