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The wild side of Barksdale

The moon rises over Lake Harmon at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Feb. 26, 2020. Barksdale occupies over 22,000 acres, offering seven lakes and ten forest ponds.

The moon rises over Lake Harmon at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Feb. 26, 2020. Barksdale occupies over 22,000 acres, offering seven lakes and ten forest ponds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lillian Miller)

Jason Russell, 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron wildlife technician, shows a spinner bait during a “How to Fish on Barksdale Air Force Base” fishing class at Barksdale AFB, La., Feb. 25, 2020. The 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron Natural Resources Office held the class for people with no southeast fishing experience to learn about the fishing resources available at Barksdale.

Jason Russell, 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron wildlife technician, shows a spinner bait during a “How to Fish on Barksdale Air Force Base” fishing class at Barksdale AFB, La., Feb. 25, 2020. The 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron Natural Resources Office held the class for people with no southeast fishing experience to learn about the fishing resources available at Barksdale. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lillian Miller)

Fishing poles lay on a table during a How to Fish on Barksdale Air Force Base fishing class at Barksdale AFB, La., Feb. 25, 2020. Barksdale occupies over 22,000 acres, offering seven lakes and ten forest ponds. Natural Resources held a class about the types of fish at all of Barksdale’s water bodies and how to best catch them.

Fishing poles lay on a table during a How to Fish on Barksdale Air Force Base fishing class at Barksdale AFB, La., Feb. 25, 2020. Barksdale occupies over 22,000 acres, offering seven lakes and ten forest ponds. Natural Resources held a class about the types of fish at all of Barksdale’s water bodies and how to best catch them. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lillian Miller)

The sun hangs above the horizon at Flag Lake located at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. Feb. 22, 2020. Outdoor Recreation has all of the equipment to allow anyone to rent kayaks, canoes, fishing gear, camping equipment and more.

The sun hangs above the horizon at Flag Lake located at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. Feb. 22, 2020. Outdoor Recreation has all of the equipment to allow anyone to rent kayaks, canoes, fishing gear, camping equipment and more. (Courtesy photo)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --

Driving through the luscious tree tunnel entrance of the main gate, one might think this is the best part of Barksdale, but there is a whole world hidden in the background.

Past the east-side shoppette is another gate, which opens to a reservation full of trails, lakes and opportunities.

“A lot of people don’t realize what all we have out here,” said Mark Gates, 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron Natural Resources office wildlife biologist. “We encourage everyone to take a look at everything and experiment. There’s a lot of opportunities to get out of the house and enjoy what you have available.”

Barksdale occupies over 22,000 acres, offering seven lakes and ten forest ponds. There are six improved primitive camping areas complete with tent pads, lantern poles, fire rings, grills and picnic tables.

“We spent hours driving around back there for the first time,” said Kelly Stookey, a Barksdale resident. “I was so shocked at how huge this base is and it’s amazing. There’s a lot of cool things to do out there.”

Natural resources manages and maintains the East Reservation environment. They keep the trails in prime condition and monitor the animal populations. If one is interested in partaking in the hunting or fishing experience, Natural Resources is where to get the appropriate licenses for Barksdale.

“We are a resource for all your fishing needs,” Gates said. “We can tell you the best equipment for each type of fish that we have here and where to find them.”

Natural resources held a fishing class Feb. 25, 2019, for people who might be new to fishing or fishing in this region. They discussed bait types, locations, pole types and techniques for each kind of fish at Barksdale.

“It is important to know the rules and the regulations, also, these guys [natural resources] are very knowledgeable,” Stookey said. “They shared some really good hints to us. Without them, we might ruin what’s available to us.”

Natural Resources allows the Barksdale community to access the east reservation but the Outdoor Recreation office has everything needed for people to enjoy the area to the fullest. Anyone is able to rent kayaks, canoes, fishing gear, camping equipment and more.

“We also have camping equipment like cots, tents, stoves and a camper,” said Rick Grimsley, 2nd Force Support Squadron outdoor recreation programmer.

Outdoor Recreation offers jon boats for rent to use out on Lake Harmon and Flag Lake.

“At some bases, we aren’t allowed to explore the natural area on base” Stookey said. “At Barksdale, what you can do is limitless.”

Individuals in need of the gate code may obtain the code at the natural resources office on weekdays during normal business hours. On weekends, holidays and after hours, individuals may obtain the codes at the 2nd Security Forces Squadron main lobby or famcamp.

For more information about Outdoor Recreation, please call 318-456-3426. For more information about Natural Resources, please call 318-456-3353 or visit https://barksdale.isportsman.net/.