Norman Haigh
Jonesville, Louisiana and Natchez, Mississippi

Norman Haigh has devoted a lifetime to restoring the productivity of farmland in the Lower Mississippi Valley. In 1997, Norman and two partners purchased a degraded 2,700-acre plantation in Tensas Parish, Louisiana, known as Dixie Plantation, which he planned to manage as a productive row-crop farm as well as a model for conservation. Utilizing his own hydrological experience, the support of his partners, and the technical assistance of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Norman installed ditches, improved roads, installed water control structures and water supply wells, and connected the farm’s wetlands to the water source via an underground delivery system. Approximately 1,000 acres were dedicated to wildlife, and two natural lakes were restored by diverting agricultural water from neighboring farms.

More than 1,000 acres have now been placed in the USDA’s Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) under permanent protection. He erected wood duck boxes, installed grassed waterways, managed moist soil plants, and reforested most of the WRP acreage to bottomland hardwoods. Deer are being managed under the state’s Deer Management Program, and the farm annually winters several thousand waterfowl and shorebirds.

Norman’s example of managing both the agricultural and wildlife values to their optimum set an example for his neighbors-Tensas Parish is now one of the leading WRP parishes in the country.

— Ray Aycock, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jackson, Mississippi