The Toledo Bend Important Bird Area (IBA) contains the Sabine Wildlife Management Area (WMA), North Toledo Bend State Park, and South Toledo Bend State Park. This IBA, with over 220,000 acres, is located in northwest Louisiana. The site offers habitat to a number of birds including large numbers of American White Pelican, as well as Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher and Black Scoter.
This IBA offers a variety of habitats to birds. The site is visited by waterbirds including ducks, geese, grebes and coots. Common Goldeneye, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, American Coot, Pied-billed Grebe and Black and Surf Scoters are just a few. Belted Kingfisher and American White Pelican also take advantage of the site?s open water. Raptors include Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, and Osprey. A rookery within North Toledo Bend State Park supports Snowy and Cattle Egret as well as Little Blue Heron. Neotropical migrants that pass through include Swainson?s and Worm-eating Warbler, Gray-cheeked and Swainson?s Thrush, and Louisiana Waterthrush. Northern Rough-winged Swallow and Tree Swallow also utilize this IBA.
One possible threat that Toledo Bend IBA faces is unsustainable lumbering practices; if continued, the overall forest?s health could be compromised. Aquatic weeds such as salvinia and hydrilla are present in the lake, and can choke out native species and reduce oxygen in the water, resulting in fish kills and reduced water quality.
Both North and South Toledo Bend State Park are owned by the state of Louisiana. The majority of the Sabine WMA is owned by Forest Capital Partners LLC; however, some smaller tracts are provided by other timber companies and private individuals. It is managed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).
The state parks? forests are a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees. Common species include cherrybark oak, post oak, water oak, some hickories, hackberry, and loblolly and longleaf pine. The understory is thick, with many briars and a springtime huckleberry. The very little open area results in forest right up to the very edge of the lake. The lake is very deep, with depths over 100 feet, with most side channels between 10-20 feet.
Sabine WMA is comprised of terrain varying from rolling hills to creek bottoms, mainly forested with loblolly pine. Other overstory species include red oak, post oak, white oak, hickory and sweetgum. Understory species include yaupon, French mulberry, hawthorn, sassafras, black cherry, wax myrtle, huckleberry and dogwood. The overstory of the creek bottoms is comprised of beech, willow oak, water oak, red maple, black gum, magnolia, southern red oak and sweetgum. Ironwood, dogwood, wild azalea, deciduous holly and regeneration overstory species are all common understory plants.
Public uses of the Toledo Bend IBA include many water activities such as boating, fishing, waterskiing, and swimming. The reservoir is nationally recognized as a destination for bass fishing and other freshwater fishing tournaments. A boat launch area and ramp, boat rentals, and fish cleaning station are available. An Olympic size swimming pool is located on the site. The staffs of the visitor centers are available to help the public with questions. Land-based activities include camping, picnicking, hiking, cycling, birding, and nature-watching. This site is commercially used for timber, particularly on a number of loblolly pine plantations. Cattle grazing occurs lightly here. There is some residential development along the lake?s edge.