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Heart of Louisiana: Cypress Island

The Cypress Island Preserve at Lake Martin is a great destination for those eager to experience a little Louisiana nature this summer.
Published: Jun. 19, 2022 at 7:40 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Cypress Island Preserve at Lake Martin is a great destination for those eager to experience a little Louisiana nature this summer. It’s perfect for paddling a canoe or bird watching or spotting alligators.

At the time that kids are getting out of school for the summer, Will DeGravelle is posting closure signs, warning visitors to stay out of a nature walk at Lake Martin. Summer is alligator nesting season.

“They do that kind of sporadically along the edge of the lake. And when they do that, they will then hang out in the water near the nest, and they will guard it pretty fiercely,” DeGravelles said.

This trail will be closed until September, giving mama and baby alligators time to hatch and move on.

“The lake is very well stocked, both male and female alligators. In fact, it’s in central south part of Louisiana it’s known as a site of some of the largest alligators. There are some really large male alligators out in the lake, nine 10-footers,” DeGravelles said.

DeGravelles is with the nature conservancy, which manages the Cypress Island Preserve located in and around the man-made lake.

“It’s a natural depression and lots of local people noticed its value that when it would become flooded and inundated, it was great for hunting and fishing and recreation. And the levee was built in the 1950s to keep the water contained,” said Jill Andrew with the nature conservancy.

This nature preserve is a favorite for bird watchers and photographers from early spring through half the summer. Wading birds are nesting in the cypress trees in the lake.

“The roseate spoonbills, all your egrets, your cattle, your great egrets, the white ibis, little blue herons. We have the tricolored herons. They’re all here year-round,” Andrew said.

But the nesting season is over by the end of July. Part of the levee road around the lake was damaged in a flood about a year ago. You can’t drive it, but you can still walk the road, and you’ll spot nesting birds in some of these cypress trees. The 200-acre lake is also a popular place for paddling a canoe or a kayak. You can wind your way through cypress and tupelo trees that fill portions of the lake.

“Some people just wanna come and see what the Cajun culture is like and what the environment was like,” Andrew said.

“It is sort of a microcosm of all that is cypress swamp in Louisiana. When you wanna see cypress, swamp, and alligators, you come here,” DeGravelles said.

The Cypress Island Preserve at Lake Martin is a quiet place to hang out and experience nature. Over the years at daybreak, you see the birds and the surrounding swamp come alive. It’s a favorite place to experience a beautiful Louisiana sunset.

For more information about Lake Martin and the nature conservancy, click HERE.

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